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.