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REMAKE THE WORLD

ESSAYS, REFLECTIONS, REBELLIONS

Stirring essays reveal an intelligent and pragmatic voice for change.

A trenchant analysis of contemporary problems.

Activist, organizer, and documentary filmmaker Taylor gathers 15 penetrating essays (previously published in venues such as the New York Times, New Republic, and the Baffler) on issues including the deleterious consequences of unfettered capitalism; planetary stewardship; Covid-19; inequality; and the meaning of democracy. “We are all living amid the wreckage of a long, ongoing, and intentional sabotage of progressive collective action,” she writes, “a profit-driven health care system ill-prepared to cope with a pandemic, runaway climate change threatening the future, a bigoted and broken criminal justice system, a misinformation-addled (and conspiracy-promoting) corporate media sphere, and an economy in which the majority of people can barely keep their heads above water.” In the face of such deep-seated problems, the author laments the lack of “an organized and mobilized multiracial working class fighting for their shared interests.” Her own evolution from “supportive observer to obsessive organizer” came in response to the Occupy movement, which highlighted the suffocating debt afflicting so many Americans; in response, she helped found the Rolling Jubilee, a fundraising initiative aiming to purchase and erase people’s debts, and the Debt Collective, a union for debtors. Activism alone cannot foment change, Taylor asserts: Organizing transforms activism into movement building, crucial to sustaining and advancing causes “when the galvanizing intensity of occupations or street protests subsides.” In several essays, the author delivers sharp critiques of capitalism, which she calls “an insecurity machine.” Besides “profits, commodities, and inequality, insecurity is a fundamental output of the system.” More than reforming capitalism, she urges, we must “jettison and transcend it.” Whether she is writing about gender discrimination in the tech industry, the plight of refugees, or the rights of the natural world, Taylor reveals in her essays a forthright commitment to “the cause of common humanity.”

Stirring essays reveal an intelligent and pragmatic voice for change.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64259-454-6

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Haymarket Books

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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