A deep dive for sex nerds and informative fun for everyone else.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

A ROUSING HISTORY OF SEX

A snarky romp through the “elastic, adaptable, catch-as-catch-can, DIY-friendly, totally open-source method of reproduction and social connection that keeps the world as we know it spinning.”

Popular Science executive editor Feltman could talk your ear off about koala chlamydia, and while she understands that her topic won’t appeal to everyone, this raucous book is sure to have something to fascinate most readers—even those who think they’re experts on all things sex-related. Rather than an in-depth examination of one or two specific elements, she offers “a smattering, a taste, a mere assortment of amuse-bouches of sexual expression and queer existence and horny exuberance through history.” Beginning with the introduction, “Everything Weird Is Normal—Everything Normal Is Weird,” the author demonstrates that she is equally confident discussing bacterial reproduction techniques, the history of heterosexual mating rituals, and contemporary human identities and politics, and there are numerous moments of laugh-out-loud amazement and eyebrow-raising surprise. The chapter on human reproduction is especially well detailed, taking the standard “sperm-meets-egg” story and complicating it almost to the point of absurdity, and Feltman’s exploration of animal biology and reproductive habits is similarly eye-opening. Many of the author’s choices are affirming and diverse—e.g., referring to “people with uteruses” and consistently including nonbinary people. Some of the humor is grating or overworked, including certain sections that will confuse older, less-internet-savvy readers, or will quickly become outdated, as in passages of meme-ready language. Feltman’s jokey tone works well for shorter pieces but becomes exhausting over a full-length book. Consequently, many readers will choose to read a chapter or two at a time. On the whole, though, the book is entertaining and educational. Before presenting a helpful section of further reading, the author notes, “this book is meant to merely be a humorous primer, a lighthearted introduction, a romp through the basics.” It’s an apt description.

A deep dive for sex nerds and informative fun for everyone else.

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64503-716-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bold Type Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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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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The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

F*CK IT, I'LL START TOMORROW

The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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