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No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need

Naomi Klein. Haymarket, $16.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-60846-890-4

Journalist and activist Klein (This Changes Everything) turns to lessons from her previous books as well as more recent work from fellow journalists and activists as she lays out a blueprint for combating Trumpism and the corporatist policies of his predecessors that made his rise possible. Trump, she writes, “is less an aberration than a logical conclusion” of the previous half-century’s obsession with free-market ideology. Since the 1970s, war, economic shifts, and extreme weather events have been exploited to implement the economic “shock tactics” that underpin neoliberal austerity regimes. These crises are deeply intertwined and “can only be dealt with through collective action,” Klein posits. She also outlines the history of American “racial capitalism” and the “divide-and-terrorize” political strategies that have maintained it to the present day. To counter this, she writes, movements must be prepared to take power and govern together towards multifaceted ends, as “no one movement can win on its own.” Urging social movements to crystallize the yes for which they’re fighting (as opposed to simply resisting), Klein cites the Leap Manifesto in Canada and the Vision for Black Lives in the U.S. as examples of community-developed documents for building a new world. With a genuine sense of hope, Klein illuminates paths to collectively forge an ecologically sound, anticapitalist order. (June)

Reviewed on 07/21/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Passage

Khary Lazarre-White. Seven Stories, $23.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-60980-783-2

In his debut novel, lawyer and activist Lazarre-White describes the day-to-day life of Warrior, a high school kid in 1993 Harlem, who is black, smart, responsible, and thoughtful, with kind parents, an adorable little sister, and the perfect girlfriend. Warrior, though, is also angry—about the cops, about his teachers, and about the fact that his friend is in prison. But instead of breathing life into Warrior’s reality or providing for him a voice that would resonate with readers, the writing is clichéd, the dialogue especially wooden. Talking with his mother one morning, Warrior says, “Mamma, I have parents who have taught me well. I know the importance of blood and love.” To which she responds, “Part of being a mother, my wise son, is telling and retelling. It’s what we’ve done since the beginning of time.” Most of the book’s parental interactions are like this—one step away from sage, Yoda-style homilies. Warrior’s father also lacks dimension: he lives in Brooklyn, in a brownstone where he listens to jazz and cooks Caribbean food, and seems to care only about the Knicks. One snowy day, Warrior walks outside his mother’s apartment to find their Harlem neighborhood swarming with cops—a boy has been shot and people are rioting. But even this tension and violence are presented in flat, stale prose. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/21/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Good People

Hannah Kent. Little, Brown, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-24396-4

Faith, folk-knowledge, and fear coalesce in remote 19th-century Ireland in this second novel from Kent (Burial Rites). When her daughter and husband die amid what the community considers dark omens—unmoving birds, mysterious lights, a raging storm—Nóra Leahy dreads a future of backbreaking work in order to pay her rent and care for her four-year-old grandson Micheál. Once hale and healthy, the boy was delivered to Nóra’s doorstep after the sudden death of his mother mute, unable to walk, and starving. Bitter gossip at the well and by the hearth questions how Nóra’s luck soured so quickly, why the valley cows’ milk is drying up, and why none of the townspeople ever see the ailing boy. Rumors and dark signs weigh on Nóra until she seeks help outside of her comfort zone: old Nance Roche’s knowledge of the Good People—the fairies. But the old hermit’s cures of nettle, nightshade, and foxglove bring nearly as much risk as reward. Defying the valley’s newly appointed priest, Nance, Nóra, and her young housemaid, Mary Clifford, set out to determine whether Micheál is a boy or the fairy changeling the valley fears him to be. Though rife with description, backstory, and a surfeit of gossip, the book’s pervasive sense of foreboding and clear narrative arcs keep the tale immersive. Kent leads the reader on a rocky, disquieting journey to the misty crossroads of Irish folk beliefs past and future. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/21/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Gitmo

Shawn Corridan and Gary Waid. Down & Out, $16.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-943402-63-2

Dixon Sweeney, the hero of this fast and fun thriller from Corridan and Waid (Goliath), has served eight years in a Florida state prison for smuggling Cubans into that state. The ever-optimistic Dixon vows, upon drawing his first breath as a free man, to go straight: “this time things will be different.” Within hours of his release, he discovers that his wife has literally moved his house from Cudjoe Key to Key West, where she’s now living with his former best friend after having cleared out his savings. Dixon moves into the garden shed that remains on his old property, where he surveys his options and decides things can only get better, because they can’t get worse, right? Well, they do, giving the reader the pleasure of watching the down-and-out but still wily Dixon as he’s drawn into a scheme that takes him to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo), while being pursued by the U.S. Coast Guard, Russian thugs, and Cuban police. Amid the mayhem, the authors provide a number of surprising plot twists and quite a few laughs. (June)

Reviewed on 07/21/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Sherlock Holmes: The Labyrinth of Death

James Lovegrove. Titan, $14.95 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-785653-37-7

In Lovegrove’s middling fifth Sherlock Holmes pastiche (after 2016’s Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows), Sir Osbert Woolfson, a judge, consults the Baker Street duo after his beloved 29-year-old daughter, Hannah, disappears. Given Hannah’s awareness of his depression following the death of his wife, Sir Osbert refuses to believe that she vanished of her own free will, but the absence of any demands argue against foul play on the part of someone seeking money or revenge. Holmes finds a cache of letters that Hannah received from a friend, Sophia Tompkins, who has become involved with the Elysians, a mysterious group devoted to ancient Greek myths and rituals. The Elysians gather at Charfrome Old Place, a huge estate in the country. Holmes and Watson travel to the area to see whether Hannah went to Old Place in search of Sophia. The plot thereafter veers into territory reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie. Lovegrove does a convincing job of capturing Watson’s voice, though he overdoes the doctor’s emotional involvement in the case. He also uses clichés that Conan Doyle would never have used (“I’ll have at the blackguard”). (June)

Reviewed on 07/21/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Incest Diary

Anonymous. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $18 (144p) ISBN 978-0-374-17555-9

An anonymous author reveals a lifetime of secrets in this unforgettable memoir as she tells the story of her relationship with her father, who raped her over the course of her childhood, until the author was 21. The result is one of the most frank and cathartic depictions of child abuse ever written. The author recalls abusing her Barbie dolls, her sense of being the “other woman” to her own mother, and the mingling of violence with desire, a tendency so crucial to the author’s development that it continues to govern her adult relationships. This is not a story of things getting better, but an unflinching and staggeringly artful portrait of a shattered life. “Sex with my father made me an orphan,” she writes, and the feeling is underscored, pages later, with a fact: “He threatened to kill himself if I told anyone.” Works of art by Fernando Botero and Frida Kahlo are invoked throughout, as are the fairy tales in which the author searches for analogues to explain her condition. But by the end of the book, she has articulated an experience that for many victims remains unspeakable. (July)

Reviewed on 07/21/2017 | Details & Permalink

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