An essential anthology that challenges our 21st-century social and political consciousness.


A collection of Lorde’s groundbreaking prose and poems on race, injustice, intersectional feminism, and queer identity.

A trailblazing black lesbian writer and activist, Lorde (1934-1992) produced a prolific and profound body of work. In this compilation, Gay presents a selection of representative texts from among Lorde’s prose and poetry. The compilation features a dozen essays, including a series of journal entries about living with cancer; selections from Lorde’s American Book Award–winning collection, A Burst of Light (1988); and more than 60 poems taken from multiple volumes, including National Book Award nominee The Land Where Other People Live (1973). For Gay, Lorde was the first to demonstrate that “a writer could be intensely concerned with the inner and outer lives of black queer women, that our experiences could be the center instead of relegated to the periphery. She wrote beyond the white gaze and imagined a black reality that did not subvert itself to the cultural norms dictated by whiteness.” In the oft-quoted “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” Lorde denounces white women for being in bed with the “racist patriarchy,” excluding black women’s leadership and ideas from supposedly feminist spaces. In “Uses of the Erotic,” Lorde calls for a more expansive view and embrace of the erotic “as a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane.” She also revisits the turbulent onset of her adolescence and complex relationship with her mother. Lorde’s poems, urgent and intimate, focus on the ordinary and the extraordinary, a range of subjects including love, death and dying, and police killings of black people with impunity. That the author’s masterful work is as relevant and necessary today as it was in the last century is both a tribute to her and a condemnation of a society that continues to oppress and marginalize black women.

An essential anthology that challenges our 21st-century social and political consciousness.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00461-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.


Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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