PositiveThe AtlanticGhosting the News, as the bearer of very bad news about the news itself, adopts an aptly funereal feel. But Sullivan—a media columnist at The Washington Post, a former public editor at The New York Times, and a longtime chief editor of The Buffalo News—is also offering an opportunity: to recalibrate our vision ... To write a book like Ghosting the News is to take on the challenge of proving a negative—to make a case for the urgency of the known unknown. Sullivan succeeds. Her book is an ink-bound alarm bell. The threat Americans face, she argues, is not just the news that lies. It is also the news that will never exist in the first place.
PositiveThe AtlanticIn one way, the memoir is an expansion of the 2017 blog post: It documents, in detail that is deeper and more gut-wrenching than a 2,900-word entry could allow, Fowler’s experiences at Uber. It recounts casual sexism and casual racism and, as Maureen Dowd put it in an article about Fowler’s original post, \'the self-indulgent, adolescent Pleasure Island mentality of Silicon Valley.\' But Whistleblower, despite its subtitle’s reference to Uber, is also a memoir in the classic sense. It is the story of how Fowler’s life was shaped by her time at Uber—but a story, too, of her fight for a life that would not succumb to the company\'s influence ... Throughout, Fowler wrestles with the tension between the two modes: Fowler as a person famous for one thing, versus Fowler as a person, full stop. The book succeeds precisely in its acknowledgment that the two figures cannot be meaningfully disentangled from each other. Fowler’s story—her full story—is the indictment. That is what gives Whistleblower its power ... Whistleblower and its fellow memoirs, however, are not so tidy. They may have clear villains, and they may share a general goal...their intimacy, however, complicates them. Their intimacy acknowledges how difficult it is, when you’re talking about systems, to separate the act of whistleblowing from the more basic act of storytelling. Where does the one end and the other begin?
RaveThe Atlantic... difficult to read in part because it is beautiful to read. Its lush words are accompanied by the specter of all that might have been—the shadow of the path that was, without Miller’s say, so violently bent in another direction. Miller’s talents might have found expression in a form other than a book about the effects of sexual violence. When trauma is transformed into art, there will always be a paradox at play: The art’s existence is beautiful. But it shouldn’t have to exist at all ... But Know My Name is insistent in its very presence. It forces readers not only to look and listen, but also to really see, to really hear—to meet Miller on her terms, in the context of the story she is telling about herself. In that, it is bracing. We are not used to hearing—to knowing—the details of sexual violence. We are not used to experiencing the daily facts of trauma through the extreme subjectivity of a memoir ... Know My Name’s power resides, in large part, in its details—details that could belong only to Chanel Miller, that could serve only her story.
PositiveThe Atlantic... is in one way, as the past days’ events have made clear, a breaker of news. It is even more powerful, however, as a revision that adds to the existing story rather than fundamentally changing it—a deeply reported retelling of the confirmation fight that many Americans experienced as a cut whose wounds never fully healed.
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
PositiveThe AtlanticShe Said, as both the product of such journalism and an exploration of it, is by turns triumphal and cautionary. What does justice, for survivors of sexual harassment and abuse, really look like? How can wrongs that are so intimate be, in a public way, righted? Kantor and Twohey, writing a professional memoir that often reads as a riveting work of true crime, offer damning evidence for what is by now a familiar theme: a legal system that promises blindness and balance—the mechanisms through which truth might be finally determined—and too often comes up short ... while there is triumph in She Said...there is also a sense of necessary open-endedness. The book functions, as many critics have noted, as a feminist All the President’s Men. But while the earlier work offered the satisfactions of a singular climax—Nixon resigned, the end—She Said, to its credit, offers no such tidiness. It offers, on the contrary, something much more productive: a challenge. An opportunity. The trial here is still ongoing. The jury is still out. The journalist offers the evidence; it is for the rest of us to decide what the justice looks like.
E. Jean Carroll
RaveThe Atlantic... the strategic collisions of tragedy and comedy also become, as the story goes on, reliably gutting ... Carroll’s \'merry romp\' is overwhelming. It is exhausting. That is the point. This is not only a book about the failures of individual men; it is also a book, as its Swiftian title suggests, about the failures of a system that has given men the power to determine the whos and wheres and hows of women’s lives. Carroll does not talk much about patriarchy or toxic masculinity or trauma or otherwise make much use of the current feminist vernacular; the book can read, at points, as preemptively dated, with its references to \'the whole female sex\' and similarly winking generalizations. What it offers, though, is a kind of literary impressionism, based on 75 years of lived experience—a sense of what it feels like to have pulsing veins and fiery nerves and a teeming mind and be caught within the cold infrastructures of sexism ... The list Carroll creates, in that way, isn’t merely a list, or a method of organizing a narrative; it is also an indictment. It is a testament to the dull banalities of sexual violence. It is a reminder of the varied forms, insidious as well as obvious, such violence can take. The book stayed true, in that sense, to Carroll’s initial premise for it: It is a memoir that is rooted in maps. It suggests all that can happen, at the most local of levels, in a land that names towns after women and tells the rest of them to know their place.
RaveThe AtlanticKevin Young’s rich history of fakery could not, in fact, be more urgent: This is a moment of deeply earned anxiety about the fate of truth itself, one in which science and fact and empiricism are threatened by the same choose-your-own-reality impulses that have been presaged by the forces Young outlines in his subtitle ...deep in its research, profound in its insights, and lyrical in its prose ...Bunk offers nearly 500 pages’ worth of folly to explore — the book is even more compelling as an argument: that hoaxes, so tangled with stereotype and systemic lies, are inextricable from race, 'a fake thing pretending to be real.'
Hillary Rodham Clinton
MixedThe AtlanticSet in the negative space of a presidency that wasn’t, the book is a political memoir in the tritest traditions of the genre. Its chapters include titles like 'Perseverance,' 'Grit and Gratitude,' and 'Making History.' It offers inspirational quotes from Rilke, various Roosevelts, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hamilton. But What Happened—its blunt title belies its tone—is also casually conversational. It is personal. It is a book fit for a time in which celebrity demands intimacy, and in which even one of politics’ most common works of poetry—the memoir—will revel in the idle revelations of prose ... What Happened, whose title of course requires no further predicate, occasionally engages in blame, what-happened-wise: of Clinton herself, of Donald Trump, of Bernie Sanders, of James Comey, of Vladimir Putin, of the American media, of many more...It also, however, takes the performative authenticity so common in those works—the focus-group-approved anecdotes, the personality-by-committee—and attempts to subvert it ... Clinton, ultimately, is doing in the book what the American media have for so long done to her, ostensibly on her behalf: She is commercializing her humanity. She is selling her emotions, for what will likely be a tidy profit...the woman who has for decades contended with a media system that demands ever more of her—more emotion, more authenticity, more humanity—is giving that system what it asked for. But she’s doing that on her own terms.
Anne Helen Petersen
PositiveThe AtlanticPetersen, fortunately, is supremely thoughtful, both about celebrity culture and about her own work on that subject, and she manages to make the book’s essays snappy and compelling. While each woman is singular, each is included in Petersen’s collection because she also works as a metaphor: Each woman represents a set of regressive expectations, ignored ... While the tone of the appreciations is celebratory—these women are some of the heroines, Petersen suggests, of this moment of contradiction and flux—it is not elegiac. Rather, it is hopeful. Progress, after all, tends to come from the iconoclasts.
PositiveThe AtlanticIn a single, terse paragraph, the author introduces the journal yet offers no explanation as to the purpose of its publication ... You’d expect a measure of literary voyeurism from a book that bills itself as being 'from a notebook,' and South and West delivers some of that ... The most common criticism of Didion’s writing has been that it is too cold; the second-most-common has been that it is too self-centered. (Didion herself has allowed some of that: 'I’m not very interested in people,' she once acknowledged.) Here, though, with South and West, are those critiques answered—with the warm transparency of an open notebook, with the humble acknowledgement that even someone of Didion’s caliber is so deeply capable of failure. How fitting that her latest book be a non-story that dares us to consider what it means to be a story in the first place. How fitting, too, that the writer who once called writing 'an aggressive, even a hostile act' has given the world a work that acknowledges an even more basic truth: that not all stories are hers to tell.
PositiveThe AtlanticThe book instead offers, overall—for author and reader alike—a compelling kind of catharsis: It is, contrary to the postmodern parfait that is Schumer’s standard act, decidedly un-layered. It is Schumer, the celebrity, shedding Schumer, the schtick. It is a memoir that is also an unapologetic paean to self-love ... One one level, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo is simply another memoir...But Schumer’s stories are really, particularly good ... Schumer had to learn, and earn, her swagger. And that is the most compelling aspect of her extremely compelling memoir.
Aziz Ansari & Eric Klinenberg
PositiveThe AtlanticThe stuff explored in the book—the gender differences in approaches to online dating, the social effects of friends-with-benefits-ing, the psychological impact of a swipe-right economy—will feel familiar to anyone who reads magazines and/or is currently single. Ansari quotes all the experts you’d expect to be quoted in a book like this. He cites exactly the research you’d expect to be cited. He sums it all up charmingly and winkily and am I rightily, with the same light snark he deploys in his standup ... while Modern Romance’s revelations aren’t terribly revelatory, their telling is refreshing in an important way: They’re humanized. They operate at the scale of everyday life and everyday experience and everyday emotion.