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LOLITA IN THE AFTERLIFE

ON BEAUTY, RISK, AND RECKONING WITH THE MOST INDELIBLE AND SHOCKING NOVEL OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

A compendious, wide-ranging collection of sharp, thoughtful essays.

A sparkling collection of essays about the controversial novel.

Lolita is personal for Minton Quigley, a writer, editor, and daughter of Walter Minton, the Putnam president who first published the novel in the U.S. in 1958. Like many of the contributors, actor Emily Mortimer wonders if a novel about the sexually explicit confessions of a middle-aged pedophile could be published today. In “Véra and Lo,” Stacy Schiff incisively explores the significant role of Nabokov’s wife, who “stood as the firewall between” her husband and Humbert Humbert in the book’s genesis and reception. Roxane Gay explores why Lolita, with its “tension between the beauty of the novel and the ugliness of its subject matter,” is a “book I love and hate in equal measure.” Crime novelist Laura Lippman writes that she’s “always approached Lolita as a detective story,” revealing Clare Quilty as “our culprit, hidden in plain sight.” Lauren Groff considers the “ways in which Nabokov sets out to seduce his readers,” and Sloane Crosley considers Lolita’s impact on popular culture. “In the new millennium,” she writes, “Lolita is a lazy euphemism for any relationship between a younger woman and an older man.” Jessica Shattuck gives voice to Charlotte Haze, Lolita’s mother, and Mary Gaitskill confronts the thorny issues of art, love, and morality. Zainab Salbi bemoans the situation of women in Iraq, where “Humbert Humbert is not some fictional character but a living one, and his right to have sex with underage girls is established both religiously and thus far politically.” Readers will also learn how Stanley Kubrick transformed the novel into what Tom Bissell describes as a “ferociously psychological” film and why, as Christina Baker Kline explains, we read Lolita for its language, characters, humor, pathos, and, yes, “its unsettling depiction of a sociopath.” Other contributors include Alexander Chee, Ian Frazier, Morgan Jerkins, Andre Dubus III, and Aleksandar Hemon.

A compendious, wide-ranging collection of sharp, thoughtful essays.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984898-83-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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