A highly informative, well-reasoned call to rethink the throne.

PIPE DREAMS

THE URGENT GLOBAL QUEST TO TRANSFORM THE TOILET

A chronicle of the quest for the loo of the future.

Toilet humor is one thing, but toilet fact, as digested by skilled science writer Wald, is quite another. Given that the average annual output of each human is “about 100 pounds of poop and about 140 gallons of pee,” human societies have always felt a pressing need to figure out what to do with it. One ancient Mesopotamian settlement, writes the author, devised the pit latrine, with a network of subterranean ceramic rings that helped distribute human output into the nearby fields, yielding agricultural benefits. Many places have devolved since that time. In rural India, for instance, people repair to favored outdoor venues that, with modest usage, can accommodate the visits while Indian cities produce enough output to destroy the country’s rivers. That’s the standard for roughly half the world’s population, Wald reckons, and this yields a lethal roster of diseases. If the human gut is “one of the most densely populated and biologically diverse microbial habitats on earth,” some of its contents include norovirus, E. coli, and other illness-causing elements. Just as the toilets we rely on turned up during plagues of old, so the current coronavirus crisis should prompt a new kind of toilet, one that will “not only thwart pathogens like those that cause cholera and typhoid but also protect against a modern scourge: a wide range of man-made pollutants…that enter our sanitation systems. Beyond that, it might even monitor the daily deposits of users, communicating with doctors and public health officials in order to catch individual diseases and community outbreaks early.” Arriving at new toilet designs figures into much of this lucid narrative, with solutions that produce biodegradable concrete coatings and fertilizer. A new toilet is essential, writes Wald, for “if sanitation doesn’t work for all of us, it works for none of us.”

A highly informative, well-reasoned call to rethink the throne.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982116-21-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

F*CK IT, I'LL START TOMORROW

The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

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BROKEN (IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY)

The Bloggess is back to survey the hazards and hilarity of imperfection.

Lawson is a wanderer. Whether on her award-winning blog or in the pages of her bestselling books, she reliably takes readers to places they weren’t even aware they wanted to go—e.g., shopping for dog condoms or witnessing what appears to be a satanic ritual. Longtime fans of the author’s prose know that the destinations really aren’t the point; it’s the laugh-out-loud, tears-streaming-down-your-face journeys that make her writing so irresistible. This book is another solid collection of humorous musings on everyday life, or at least the life of a self-described “super introvert” who has a fantastic imagination and dozens of chosen spirit animals. While Furiously Happy centered on the idea of making good mental health days exceptionally good, her latest celebrates the notion that being broken is beautiful—or at least nothing to be ashamed of. “I have managed to fuck shit up in shockingly impressive ways and still be considered a fairly acceptable person,” writes Lawson, who has made something of an art form out of awkward confessionals. For example, she chronicles a mix-up at the post office that left her with a “big ol’ sack filled with a dozen small squishy penises [with] smiley faces painted on them.” It’s not all laughs, though, as the author addresses her ongoing battle with both physical and mental illness, including a trial of transcranial magnetic stimulation, a relatively new therapy for people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression. The author’s colloquial narrative style may not suit the linear-narrative crowd, but this isn’t for them. “What we really want,” she writes, “is to know we’re not alone in our terribleness….Human foibles are what make us us, and the art of mortification is what brings us all together.” The material is fresh, but the scaffolding is the same.

Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-07703-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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