A sympathetic, cleareyed portrait that gives Dworkin her due without smoothing over her rough edges.

ANDREA DWORKIN

THE FEMINIST AS REVOLUTIONARY

Veteran biographer and gay rights activist Duberman assesses the life and thought of the combative radical feminist.

Andrea Dworkin (1946-2005) was among the most controversial figures in the second-wave feminist movement, caricatured by her critics as a man-hating lesbian who believed all heterosexual sex was rape. Duberman, who knew her personally, paints a much more nuanced picture, pointing out that Dworkin lived for 40 years in a nonexclusive, occasionally sexual relationship with a devoted male partner and that she was ahead of her time in seeing gender as a social construct that denied the fluidity of human sexual behavior. His account of Dworkin’s childhood and youth depicts a precocious rebel with a deep commitment to social justice and a theatrical, confrontational personality that brooked no compromise or evasions. When she was subjected to a brutal and humiliating vaginal exam after being arrested at a sit-in protesting the Vietnam War, 18-year-old Dworkin wrote to every newspaper in New York City describing her ordeal and the conditions at the Women’s House of Detention. It was the beginning of her lifelong battle to make the world face the fact that women were routinely mistreated and abused, culminating in her famous crusade against pornography. Duberman persuasively argues that Dworkin’s position was misunderstood as a call for censorship when in fact what she advocated was the right of women who had been harmed by pornography to sue its purveyors—and their obligation to prove their case in court. Her response to free-speech absolutists gives a good sense of both her belligerence and her searching intelligence: “People have no idea how middle-classed and privileged their liberal First Amendment stuff is—how power and money determine who can speak in this society.” These words resonate even more strongly today, and Duberman notes that after years of opprobrium, there is now “a modicum of acknowledgment of Andrea’s insistent bravery, her mesmerizing public voice, her generosity of spirit.”

A sympathetic, cleareyed portrait that gives Dworkin her due without smoothing over her rough edges.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62097-585-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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