A fascinating examination of a period still remembered by most, refreshingly free of unnecessary mythmaking.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2022

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE NINETIES

A BOOK

Klosterman returns with an entertaining journey through the last decade of the 20th century.

“Almost every meaningful moment of the nineties was captured on videotape, along with thousands upon thousands of trivial moments that meant nothing at all,” writes the author. “The record is relatively complete. But that deluge of data remained, at the time, ephemeral and unavail­able. It was still a present-tense existence.” In this retrospective, which examines a decade that most of his readers lived though, Klosterman acknowledges that “there is always a disconnect between the world we seem to remember and the world that actually was.” Throughout the wide-ranging narrative—from technology and the rise of the internet to key trends in music, TV, and film; indelible moments in sports; and significant political moments—Klosterman takes pains to ensure that references are addressed in relation to their historical context rather than through the foggy and often inaccurate lens of memory. He brings the decade to vivid new life, whether he’s discussing attempts to classify Generation X; how the ascendency of grunge “initiated rock’s recession from the center of society”; or the unprecedented phenomena of Meet Joe Black being the “all-time highest grossing movie among ticket buyers who did not watch one minute of the film” (many theatergoers entered to view the “131-second trailer for The Phantom Menace” before walking out). In the 1990s, writes the author, “No stories were viral. No celebrity was trending. The world was still big. The country was still vast. You could just be a little person, with your own little life and your own little thoughts. You didn’t have to have an opinion, and nobody cared if you did or did not.” As in his previous books of cultural criticism, Klosterman delivers a multifaceted portrait that’s both fun and insightful.

A fascinating examination of a period still remembered by most, refreshingly free of unnecessary mythmaking.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1795-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

SO HELP ME GOD

The former vice president reflects warmly on the president whose followers were encouraged to hang him.

Pence’s calm during the Trump years has been a source of bemusement, especially during the administration’s calamitous demise. In this bulky, oddly uncurious political memoir, Pence suggests the source of his composure is simple: frequent prayer and bottomless patience for politicking. After a relatively speedy recap of his personal and political history in Indiana—born-again Christian, conservative radio host, congressman, governor—he remembers greeting the prospect of serving under Trump with enthusiasm. He “was giving voice to the desperation and frustration caused by decades of government mismanagement,” he writes. Recounting how the Trump-Pence ticket won the White House in 2016, he recalls Trump as a fundamentally hardworking president, albeit one who often shot from the hip. Yet Pence finds Trump’s impulsivity an asset, setting contentious foreign leaders and Democrats off-balance. Soon they settled into good cop–bad cop roles; he was “the gentler voice,” while “it was Trump’s job to bring the thunder.” Throughout, Pence rationalizes and forgives all sorts of thundering. Sniping at John McCain? McCain never really took the time to understand him! Revolving-door staffers? He’s running government like a business! That phone call with Ukraine’s president? Overblown! Downplaying the threat Covid-19 presented in early 2020? Evidence, somehow, of “the leadership that President Trump showed in the early, harrowing days of the pandemic.” But for a second-in-command to such a disruptive figure, Pence dwells little on Trump’s motivations, which makes the story’s climax—Trump’s 2020 election denials and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—impossible for him to reconcile. How could such a selfless patriot fall under the sway of bad lawyers and conspiracy theorists? God only knows. Chalk it up to Pence's forgiving nature. In the lengthy acknowledgments he thanks seemingly everybody he’s known personally or politically; but one name’s missing.

Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 9781982190330

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

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 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more