A provocatively progressive declaration.

SHE PROCLAIMS

OUR DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE FROM A MAN'S WORLD

The director of communications for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign offers a manifesto for American women seeking empowerment outside patriarchy.

When Clinton lost the election, her setback mirrored the situation for all American women seeking to shatter professional glass ceilings. As Palmieri observes, “the professional world belongs to men, and women are only visitors.” In this follow-up to Dear Madam President (2018), the author creates a modern declaration of independence in 13 sections that draw on feminist history, current events, and her own experiences as a working woman. Each chapter begins with a “proclamation” that rejects "truths" about women created by patriarchy: for example, that only "a limited number of women…can succeed in the world and that the professional advancement of women is a zero-sum game,” or that females must silence themselves in order to be accepted. Palmieri suggests that events and trends like the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, the #MeToo movement, and the unprecedented numbers of women attaining political office in the last two years reveal an increased, vocal desire to “even out the power dynamic between men and women.” Furthermore, the rise to prominence of older, more experienced women disparaged by patriarchy (and also represented by Clinton) can only benefit society. Indeed, Palmieri asserts that midlife has been nothing but productive and “exhilarating” for her. But because American society is governed by the rules of men, women’s continued efforts to better their status have still not achieved the social parity for which such feminist foremothers as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul fought. Inclusivity is at the heart of Palmieri’s "declaration," which she asserts is an attack against patriarchal systems rather than individual men. Inspiring and invigorating, this brief, sharp call to action cries out for continued feminist action in order to create an American society based on “equality for all.”

A provocatively progressive declaration.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5065-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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