Up-and-down humor that sometimes gets to the heart of the realities of being black in America.

YOU CAN'T TOUCH MY HAIR

AND OTHER THINGS I STILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN

A black female comedian lays it all out there.

Stand-up comic and co-star of the WNYC podcast 2 Dope Girls, Robinson has a lot to complain about, starting with the need people have to touch her hair. In case readers fail to pick up on her humorous vibes regarding hair, the author includes a second chapter on the history of black hair in film, TV, and other media. Throughout the book—a hybrid of humor, truth-telling, and poking-fun-at-life-in-general—Robinson delves into what it means to be a woman and black and, more importantly, a black woman in today’s American society. Filled with references to pop culture and plenty of hashtags, the narrative addresses issues like how to avoid being the one black friend in a group of white people, the difficulty of being hired to play a role in a show because you’re either too black or too light, and why NFL players need to treat women better. She gives readers her list of nine guilty pleasures (No. 1: “Ranking Members of U2 in the Order of Whom I Want to Sleep With”; The Edge is first) and a list of demands for a future female president, including penalizing those who perpetuate the thigh-gap obsession. She also explains why “Lisa Bonet is Bae. Queen. Jesus” and waxes poetic on why she takes her laundry home to her parents’ house. “If a person were to play [the dryer] in a movie—don’t ask me why—it would be played by Meryl Streep,” she writes. “The dryer is that damn good.” Although the humor is forced and tiresome in places, Robinson does hit the mark on some important issues, and fans of her podcast will enjoy the book.

Up-and-down humor that sometimes gets to the heart of the realities of being black in America.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-312920-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Plume

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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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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