While repetitive in places, this work delivers a heartfelt attack on an often overlooked topic.

CIRCUMCISION SCAR

MY 35 YEAR FORESKIN RESTORATION, NEONATAL CIRCUMCISION MEMORIES, AND HOW CHRISTIAN AMERICAN DOCTORS HIJACKED “HOLY CIRCUMCISION” TO DUPE A NATION

A writer examines the horrors of male circumcision.

Debut author Jackson explains early on in his autobiographical book that he has quite a few issues with circumcision, including the seemingly standard practice of performing the procedure on male infants in the United States. One of his main arguments is that in the modern-day world, circumcision serves no real purpose and amounts to “sexual mutilation.” And if one truly wants to be circumcised, why not let that individual make the decision as a consenting adult rather than a defenseless child? The volume tells not so much the story of circumcision in general (though a later chapter addresses the work of an early 20th-century advocate named Dr. Peter Charles Remondino) as the author’s personal tale. And it is a story fraught with family trauma, angry urologists, and painful cosmetic surgery. The author details his own apathetic attitude toward religion as well as the struggles he and his husband have faced in a world that has often been unkind to their status as a gay married couple. To say that Jackson’s words are raw would be an understatement. Readers who feel squeamish at the thought of someone’s intricate “taping” routine to try to overcome his circumcision are unlikely to get far in the book. The author’s anger is palpable, though his hostility can become monotonous. His lengthy attack on Remondino (“If circumcision cures all mental illness, then Dr. Remondino’s own cropped penis should have rendered him less of a moron”) could have been summed up more succinctly. Yet Jackson’s honesty provides a new way of looking at a practice that is rarely discussed. In the end, this intriguing subject is not only brought to light, but also done so in an impassioned way.

While repetitive in places, this work delivers a heartfelt attack on an often overlooked topic. (notes)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73455-580-6

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Hookona Books

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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