A fit of nostalgia and self-aggrandizement disguised as a generational call to arms.




The author launched his career as a social critic with a much-discussed Details essay that asked, “Has Generation X Already Peaked?” Here’s the answer (no), now bloated to book length.

According to Gordinier, without Gen X’s contributions to music, art, film, sociology and, most importantly, technology, society would be a vastly different place. That’s a reasonable response to loud critics who have called X the “slacker generation.” It’s also almost as obvious and amorphous as the author’s broader thesis that just as past generations have defined their eras, so too has X defined ours. Gordinier undermines his defense with a meandering argument that reads like a lengthy self-applied pat on the back. The many pop references, carefully selected so his peers will be sure to get them, are not notable for their shrewd insights. The author apparently thinks Kurt Cobain was the first rock star ever to be overwhelmed by the misery of sudden fame. He likens Paris Hilton to the bad kids in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (the 1971 movie, that is, from which “vast numbers of Generation Xers learned all their moral lessons”). He treats us to the hot-off-the-presses revelation that Quentin Tarantino’s filmmaking is shaped not by a graduate degree, but by all those movies the director-to-be watched while working in a video store. Given Gordinier’s inability to move beyond his own tastes, accomplishments and even angst, it’s not too surprising that the misleading opening section, “Quick First-Person Tangent,” takes up more than half of the book. The author is actually a decent representative for the generation he seeks to defend: He traveled to Prague on a whim to take part in the Velvet Revolution and eschewed graduate school to become a rock journalist. Unfortunately, his disproportionate attention to his own memories skews his project.

A fit of nostalgia and self-aggrandizement disguised as a generational call to arms.

Pub Date: March 31, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-670-01858-1

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2008

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.


Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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