“What are my values?” one woman asks. “What do I want to express?” Those questions inform the multitude of eclectic...

WOMEN IN CLOTHES

A quirky anthology exploring the meaning of clothes.

Forget Anna Wintour, Tim Gunn and the fashion mavens on What Not to WearBeliever editor Heti (How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life, 2012, etc.), Believer founding editor Julavits (Writing/Columbia Univ.; The Vanishers, 2013, etc.) and Shapton (Swimming Studies, 2012, etc.) are interested not in what women wear, but why. To that end, they sent “an ever-evolving” survey to hundreds of women, asking a variety of questions—e.g., “What’s your process of getting dressed in the morning?”; “Do you ever wish you were a man or could dress like a man or had a man’s body?”; “How and when do you shop for clothes?” Respondents include artists, writers, scholars, critics, nurses and doctors, mothers and grandmothers, actors, businesswomen, athletes and others from all over the world. Some are famous: New York Times fashion critic Alexandra Jacobs, restaurant critic Ruth Reichl, actor Molly Ringwald and novelist Kiran Desai, who reveals the time-consuming process of wearing a sari. Some flaunt attention-getting fashion choices: wearing silver Doc Martens; coloring their hair bright blue; buying a “florescent and hooker-ish” dress; altering a winter coat by trimming it with lace. One woman removes all tags and labels. “In some superstitious way,” she writes, “I feel like this allows the clothes to become more fully themselves….” Another uses clothes “as a way to cast a spell over myself, so that I might feel special.” Poems, interviews, pieces that read like diary or journal entries—all these responses help the editors fulfill their aims: to liberate readers from the idea that women have to fit a certain image or ideal, to show the connection between dress and “habits of mind,” and to offer readers “a new way of interpreting their outsides.”

“What are my values?” one woman asks. “What do I want to express?” Those questions inform the multitude of eclectic responses gathered in this delightfully idiosyncratic book.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16656-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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