A sharp-eyed collection of bits and pieces that will appeal, at least in part, to readers on both hot and cold sides of the...

THE TROUBLE WITH MEN

REFLECTIONS ON SEX, LOVE, MARRIAGE, PORN, AND POWER

The provocative essayist contemplates the precarious mechanics of human intimacy.

In this bold mixture of stark honesty and humor, Shields (Other People: Takes & Mistakes, 2017, etc.) ponders how sex, love, attraction, and power all coalesce to both fortify and complicate the human mating experience. Snippets and subdivisions of thought, critiques, and inspired scenarios abound as the author’s entertaining musings range from confessional—he unmasks facets of his own marriage and imagines a love letter to his wife or a novel about their exchange of sexual fantasies—to examinations of oddities and taboo aspects of sexuality. The author explores intimate relationships through personal examples and experiences as well as copious references and allusions (presented in a collage style similar to that of the author’s Reality Hunger) drawn from a spectrum of well-respected writers, poets, journalists, and medical professionals; most reinforce Shields’ ideas and assessments and add zesty commentary to an already fiery topic. The book is separated into five sections, each one progressively more explicit. An introductory chapter of bite-sized observations on human togetherness as seen through the lens of popular culture heralds further introspections on the author’s own emotional landscape. Personal anecdotes on his awkward adolescence and family life and scenes of both romantic love and explicit sex interweave with outtakes from an ensemble of opinionated voices—e.g., utterances from a pre-presidential Donald Trump and a piece by sexologist Pepper Schwartz that psychoanalyzes Bernie Madoff’s behavior. In the opening pages of a graphically descriptive chapter on sexual fantasy and pornography (“the world’s one true religion”), Shields asks, “is sex really that awful?” The answer, found in a dizzying array of explicit and racy perspectives, will depend on the reader's reactions to the author’s revealing adventures, each buttressed by a supporting chorus of sex-positive cheerleaders and damning naysayers. Entertaining and contemplative, Shields offers focused philosophy and effervescent wisdom on some of society’s knottiest topics.

A sharp-eyed collection of bits and pieces that will appeal, at least in part, to readers on both hot and cold sides of the intimacy spectrum.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8142-5519-3

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Mad Creek/Ohio State Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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