by Jacqueline Rose ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2023
Best for committed fans of Freud, Camus, and Weil.
A feminist literary critic considers the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rose, the prolific author of On Violence and On Violence Against Women, The Question of Zion, Women in Dark Times, and other intellectually challenging books, assembles expanded versions of four previously published essays and one talk given at the London Freud Museum, along with an introduction and an afterward. The essays consider, at least tangentially, the lingering effects of the pandemic on society. More directly, they focus on three of Rose's heroes: Albert Camus, Sigmund Freud, and Simone Weil. Writing in an abstruse, academic style, Rose conducts close readings of Camus' The Plague, Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle, and several of Weil's more difficult works, and she considers the effect of Covid-19 restrictions on a possible upswing in domestic violence aimed at women. Rose touches briefly on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and, more frequently, on what she considers to be Boris Johnson's many flaws. She also brings into the mix her personal emotions about—though not her personal experience of—the pandemic. “I struggle, like so many, to bring into some psychic alignment the pain of my inner life and the tragedy unfolding outside my door,” she writes. In respect to Weil, Rose notes, “on the page her concepts slide into and out of each other in a sometimes creative, sometimes tortured amalgam, a blur.” The same could be said of this collection. Rose’s essays raise questions and spark thoughts, but they seldom arrive at cohesive conclusions. The author is best when she slows down to examine all sides of a passage from one of the authors she loves, bringing to light implications that might slip by in a cursory reading or, in the case of Camus, meditation on questions of translation. Rose has never been accused of talking down to her readers, and many may find this volume not worth tackling.Best for committed fans of Freud, Camus, and Weil.
Pub Date: June 7, 2023
Page Count: 192
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: March 20, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023
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by Rob Harvilla ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 14, 2023
A personal ’90s music overview that is far from definitive, but nevertheless instructive and often poignant.
An oddly entertaining collection of essays that covers more than 100 songs but doesn’t really explain the decade that created them—which may be beside the point.
A senior staff writer at the Ringer, Harvilla adapts this book from his podcast of the same name, in which he outlines the importance of a song from the 1990s and then discusses it with a guest. The adaptation can be clunky, as the author looks for writing conventions to group often disparate songs and artists together under themes like “Chaos Agents,” “Villains + Adversaries,” and “Romance + Sex + Immaturity.” The way he switches gears from rapturous praise of Celine Dion to the misheard lyrics of Hole’s “Doll Parts” is as jarring as riding with a teenager driving a stick shift for the first time. Harvilla deftly moves from explaining a song’s backstory to how it connects to him or the music of the time. However, he rarely connects a song to the outside world, which may be by design. He purposefully removes Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” from everything that came after its stunning success. “What I’m saying is that sometimes you gotta let the singer be the singer and let the song be the song, and not hold its former culture-throttling ubiquity against it, nor hold its long-term unbearable biographical baggage against it,” he writes. “Empty your mind of all unpleasant and unnecessary context.” That approach doesn’t help to explain the ’90s—musically or historically—despite what the title promises. It can be forgiven, though, because Harvilla successfully captures what the ’90s felt like through his personal stories’ intriguing observations—e.g., “paging through somebody’s CD book was…like drinking beer out of someone else’s mouth.”A personal ’90s music overview that is far from definitive, but nevertheless instructive and often poignant.
Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023
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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.
Awards & Accolades
The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.
Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.
Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020
Page Count: 272
Publisher: Celadon Books
Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020
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