A well-reasoned argument that, given the arrival of a like-minded administration, may soon prove to have legs.

TAX THE RICH!

HOW LIES, LOOPHOLES, AND LOBBYISTS MADE THE RICH EVEN RICHER AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

A book from the Patriotic Millionaires group demands that wealthy Americans contribute vastly more to the public treasury.

Pearl, Payne, and their fellow philanthropic millionaires have a dire warning for the ultrawealthy: “You cannot continue to sit by and enjoy your riches while the rest of the world falls further into poverty and chaos….Reread your history books. Dysfunctional societies don’t end well for rich people either.” Though being rich is a fine thing—“I would recommend it to anyone,” Pearl breezily notes—it carries certain responsibilities as well as considerable freedoms. An equitable tax code is a start. The current system was built for the rich and by the rich, and it is structured so that it actively militates against building a strong middle class, predicated on fictions such as the trickle-down theory of economics. Inequality is rampant, and with it, instability and strife grow. This is all by design, write the authors. Against it, they talk economics. By reason of the theory of marginal utility, which holds that a person who has lots of units of something—dollars, say—will value an added unit less than a person who has few of them, those who have more money than they know what to do with will scarcely register a tax hike. Doing away with carried-interest deductions, putting capital gains rates on par with the rates applied to earned income, and taxing inheritances will do their part, too. The authors note that the current tax mess can’t be laid only at the door of Republicans, and they charge that it’s up to the people to rise up not violently but politically by voting for those who will advance a more equitable system: “If the American people are paying attention…they can have the kind of tax code they want, regardless of who’s in charge.”

A well-reasoned argument that, given the arrival of a like-minded administration, may soon prove to have legs.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62097-626-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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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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