An assumption-exploding, smart account of creativity, work, and a decidedly unconventional life.

SHE WANTS IT

DESIRE, POWER, AND TOPPLING THE PATRIARCHY

An adroit memoir from the creator of Transparent.

Soloway grew up with a father who “was either hiding out, depressed, or working,” along with a tough mother and a sister who came out long ago even as the author “stayed a straightbian and tilted toward artsiness and weed.” So far, an ordinary American family, until one day her father called to say that he was trans. “I had the wrong pronouns then and have only some of the right pronouns now but will use the wrong ones so you can see how wrong I had it,” writes the author, the ordinariness having given way to something new. Having written for the HBO series Six Feet Under and crafted the indie film Afternoon Delight, Soloway was well-placed to make the difficult sell for a series that leveraged some of her own experience and that of many other people—namely, Transparent, which proved a hit for Amazon as it was launching its own independent production business. There was a lot to learn, Soloway writes, and readers new to the complexities of nonbinary gender will find new things on every page thanks to the author’s sharp observations of the world, as when seeing a young man on a Vermont street wearing a sundress: “The same homeless kid, were they female but wearing a man’s scruffy pants and shirt, wouldn’t attract a second look. They might be exactly the same amount genderqueer, but the one who seemed to be male in women’s clothing was alarming in the way a woman in men’s clothing would not be.” There’s a lot to chew on in such things, and Soloway’s meditations become more complex, some of it in the shadow of the unfolding #MeToo movement. A helpful takeaway comes late in the book: “You’re not in trouble and you haven’t done anything wrong.”

An assumption-exploding, smart account of creativity, work, and a decidedly unconventional life.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-90474-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

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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