Flawed but funny diatribes from an emerging comedic voice.




Channeling absurdity into activism: blunt, woman-centered comedic essays aimed at generating female resistance and mutual support.

Throwing Shade podcast co-host and Funny or Die writer Gibson felt all fired up after reading Susan Faludi, so she decided to write a book about the beleaguered state of women in this country. A self-proclaimed “feminasty” whose superpower is “repackaging lady sadness into digestible comedy,” the author leverages her outspoken Southern persona and her less conventionally feminine characteristics (including a predilection for swearing and gross-out humor) as weapons in the fight for gender parity. In a series of rambling, casual essays, Gibson rages against those she sees as having committed or enabled crimes against women, with the most vituperation reserved for right-wing journalists and politicians, especially Mike Pence and Betsy DeVos. She unleashes a stand-up comedian’s audacity and calculated obscenity on recent topics like the legislative rollbacks on rape and abortion, the #MeToo backlash, and breast cancer profiteering, punctuated by her own bitterly hilarious tales of woe. She thinks we should all, male and female, be talking more about labia and herpes and teenage sex. The rhetorical purposes of the work are clear: Gibson seeks to lift up women at every opportunity, especially by changing the gender balance in political power: “We wait out their term, helping women who are in the crosshairs of their villainous laws. Then, we flush them out with a sea of overqualified women who won’t forget what they did to us.” In keeping with her goal that women pursue a “closed female monetary system” wherever possible, she offers a series of surprisingly earnest reviews of specific cosmetics from women-owned companies. Like much topical satire, the book would likely benefit from a live or recorded reading. Gibson is still sussing out her transition to the printed page, and this debut embodies her trademark awkwardness, but she speaks to a generation of women too angry to accept any cultural commentary that isn’t somewhat raw and deadly sincere under its veneer of sarcasm.

Flawed but funny diatribes from an emerging comedic voice.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7186-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.


Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.


The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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