“Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” is an evocative exploration of loss. The book of poetry and prose vignettes opens with author Claudia Rankine as a child witnessing her father looking flooded, leaking, breaking, broken. He was grieving his own mother’s death, and Rankine climbed the stairs as far from him as she could, distancing herself from his unfamiliar expression. “He looked to me like someone understanding his aloneness,” she writes. The rest of the book ranges over the territory of . . .
Layered with academic and poetic insights, Maggie Nelson’s memoir “The Argonauts” is a meditation on love, maternity, family, sexuality, and gender. It’s distinguished by a brutally tender chronicling of the physical and hormonal transitions of the author and her partner Harry Dodge, as Nelson undergoes artificial insemination and Dodge navigates a double mastectomy and testosterone injections. From the first paragraph Nelson establishes that this is not a book for the faint of heart or . . .
Convincing American women to transform workplaces by voting in family-friendly laws involves no small amount of cajoling—and for good reason. Even after decades of feminist manifestos and women’s empowerment tomes (or perhaps partly because of them), it can feel like an admission of deficiency to clamor for a new world order, like you aren’t Oprah or Hillary or Sheryl enough to win in a man’s world. That’s why personal growth books like Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” are so seductive. . . .
Wendy Lesser is the kind of reader who will track down a bootleg version of Haruki Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood” and compare it line by line with the authorized version. The kind of reader who can find a book list “intensely moving, even in its misjudgements.” The kind of re-reader who wishes “Wolf Hall” were twice as long and at its end heads to the Frick Museum to gaze at portraits of its protagonist Thomas Cromwell. And she is the kind of writer who can spend 200 pages telling you all about . . .
This sensory novel explores heartbreak and home as protagonist Ingrid Palamede navigates a torturous landscape where brawn, swagger and grapes rule. Lush with quirky characters and vivid scenes, “Valley Fever” takes us into the hearts of a close-knit community, a lovably flawed family and a spirited heroine. Ingrid has no place of her own to seek refuge when her boyfriend dumps her after she’s moved in. She turns first to her sister in L.A., then heads north to her childhood home in Fresno to . . .
“Crazy Love” by Leslie Morgan Steiner is a personal history of abuse with a social mission of redemption. Steiner recounts a series of harrowing milestones in a relationship gone wrong, illuminating why she and so many others stay with violent partners—and how friends, family, bystanders can help. Addressing the reader directly, she writes: “If I were brave enough the first time I met you, I’d try to share what torture it is to fall in love with a good man who cannot leave a violent . . .
It’s hard for domestic violence victims to see a path to safety, let alone travel it. They have to survive the violence itself, overcome the guilt, shame and alienation it causes, and risk death or injury to escape. They have to secure shelter, food and clothing and navigate a mire of legal proceedings to distance themselves from their abusers. Often with few resources and little hope. When we think of someone escaping abuse, the red tape of protective orders, divorce, custody, name changes . . .
Instead, I found the same old, same old: an overwhelmingly white and male list. It featured just three women authors — Harper Lee, Margaret Atwoood, L.M. Montgomery. Haruki Murakami and Alexandre Dumas the lone people of color. Irritated, I replied: “I hope this is a first draft and you plan to do some soul searching about the bias you just put on blast.” I wrongly assumed that the whitewashed list, like so many others every year, was a sole author’s creation. Turns out, the real origin was . . .
I love this elegant story of kindness and cruelty. In just 32 pages, it distills the essence of human conflict--a persistent refusal to see the humanity in others and extend simple warmth and care. Set among school children, “Each Kindness” is told from the perspective of Chloe, a young girl who refuses to accept small gestures of friendship from Maya, the new girl. Maya wears spring shoes in the snow and plays alone, snubbed by classmates who laugh and name her "Never New" for her . . .
Sarah Scarbrough exudes passion and pragmatism. She’s internal program director for the Richmond City Justice Center in Virginia (formerly the Richmond City Jail), and she’s serious about giving offenders another chance. To help these most disadvantaged, dismissed members of our society, Scarbrough takes a holistic approach in partnership with other agencies and the community at large. I saw Scarbrough in action in February, when I participated in an event designed to help volunteers and . . .