Important, timely, necessary reading.

RAGE BECOMES HER

THE POWER OF WOMEN'S ANGER

The director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project interrogates the nature of modern female anger and outrage.

In this powerful essay collection, Chemaly draws on interviews, research, and personal experience to examine why patriarchal Western cultures continue to demand that women silence their rage, much of which is well-earned. From early childhood, girls are taught that expressing anger is taboo; to gain social acceptance, they must learn the lesson of object utility. When the author spoke at a New England college several years ago, she was confronted by a 19-year-old male student who implied that women were “inert, possessions to be used, and lacking in self-determination.” Internalized rage, which society encourages women to mask with smiling benevolence, often takes the form of bodily ailments that run the gamut from headaches to depression and fibromyalgia. Chemaly argues that when women express the pain that doctors too often dismiss, they are “actually conveying…that having a female body hurts and endangers us.” Regardless of what women may desire and no matter their ambitions, modern society teaches them that their proper role is as caregiver, “despite the stress and economic vulnerability [that role] cultivates.” That role receives its ultimate codification in motherhood, which Western culture still sees as a woman’s obligation rather than choice. Women who step out of line to assert themselves become targets of what Chemaly calls the corrosive “drip, drip, drip” of microaggressions that ultimately become “the building blocks of structural discrimination” (among countless others, see: Hillary Clinton). The author goes on to assert that much-critiqued worldwide movements like #MeToo are crucial because they offer spaces where women can tell their stories and be heard. To help women use anger productively, Chemaly ends by offering a 10-point plan of action to help redress the gender imbalances that threaten not only them, but democracy itself. Intelligent and keenly observed, this is a bracingly liberating call for the right of women to own their anger and use it to benefit a society “at risk for authoritarianism.”

Important, timely, necessary reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8955-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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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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