cover image Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation

Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation

Laura Kipnis. Metropolitan, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-1-62779-187-8

Kipnis’s gifts are on full display in this irresistible collection of essays, in which she weaves together complex and penetrating insights about gender into provocative treatises. Though the book is putatively about men, Northwestern University professor Kipnis (Against Love) takes an appreciably unique angle on her subjects. Each chapter, save one, is devoted to an archetype of masculinity. Kipnis’s arguments are never predictable: for example, her chapter on “juicers,” ostensibly about steroid-abusing male athletes, evolves into a profound soliloquy about writing, plagiarism, and labor markets. Her examination of modern manhood sheds as much light on male vulnerability as it does on male privilege, entitlement, and abuse. If the book has a failing, it can be found in its unfortunate proclivity for armchair psychoanalysis, on display in the digression about Naomi Wolf’s story of sexual harassment at the hands of a male professor and the tale of a male writer who was the victim of stalking. In spite of this drawback, Kipnis has given us a necessary, and often witty, book that shows a brilliant, agile mind at work. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit. (Nov.)