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  Domenica Ruta grew up outside Boston as the brainy misfit daughter of a loud, buxom, peroxide-blonde Italian mother. A vain and mercurial “narcotic omnivore,” her mom loved and hated her only daughter with equal ferocity. Their home was full of contradictions. As a kid, Ruta was given OxyContin for headaches. Her mom worked extra jobs to pay for Ruta’s dance lessons, but refused to acknowledge that her daughter was being molested. As a teenager, Ruta ... Read More
  It’s a truth universally agreed upon, at least among those of us who came of age in the 1980s, that Cyndi Lauper is one of the coolest, most interesting people in the world. Her songs made us want to dance and bop around and roller-skate. Lauper became a superstar for belting out “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and, admittedly, she did have more than her fair share of good times, sometimes criminally great times. Now 59, she has the ability to ... Read More
  Ever since her adolescence, Rosie Schaap, who writes the “Drink” column for The New York Times, has felt an attraction to bars. As a teenager, her obsession begins when she starts giving tarot card readings in exchange for beer in the bar car of the Metro North commuter train. When she attends college in a small town where the local bar is the only means of entertainment, drinking in bars becomes Schaap’s devoted hobby. She even abandons ... Read More
  Have you ever woken from a dream that was so tangible, the damn thing haunted you for months after? If not, read Kiki Petrosino’s Fort Red Border (Sarabande Books) instead. Her debut collection is, for the most part, comprised of poems about a fantasized affair with actor Robert Redford and all the psychic turmoil that comes with it. Even though the book’s title is an anagram for Redford’s name, these poems aren’t just imaginative ... Read More
The reference to “six granddaughters” in the title of this dark, complex novel is deceiving: two are dead. One dies as an infant and pulls a shroud of everlasting grief over the family, and the other narrates the entire novel from beyond the grave while she floats in an afterlife. At the heart of the novel is Cecilia, a beautiful poet who is perceived as being the most talented and attractive among the granddaughters. Nonetheless, she is plagued by ... Read More
This is the story of a Palestinian family in Gaza coping with the hell of living in a warzone. The book is informative, exciting, and thorough—all you have to do is get through the first 60 cumbersome pages, and then the story flies along until the end. Dabbagh’s main characters are 27-year-old Iman and her twin brother Rashid, and their story opens with a bombing raid. While Rashid is hanging out on his roof, stoned out of his mind and welcoming ... Read More
In Marbles, cartoonist Ellen Forney’s life-altering journey though mental illness is graphically exposed in more ways than one. The Forney we see at the start of the story is experiencing her most sexual, creative, and manic period, which is followed by a big crash that leads to her bipolar diagnosis at 30. Here, her story evolves into the struggle not only to come to terms with medicating herself, but also to find the right formula of medications that will ... Read More
News junkies and fans of Hanna Rosin will surely remember “The End of Men,” her 2010 Atlantic article about female success and how it relates to the simultaneous plummeting of male accomplishment. Her engrossing new book retains that provocative title and expounds on the facts she uncovered in her first go-round. Rosin focuses mostly on the shifting of familial responsibilities and career achievements between men and women by examining statistics and ... Read More
There have been many responses to the highly offensive (and incorrect) essay by Christopher Hitchens called “Why Women Aren’t Funny” that ran in Vanity Fair in 2007, and this oral history is the most comprehensive. We Killed chronicles the rise of female comedians ranging from the days of Mary Tyler Moore, up to the present successes of Tina Fey and Kristen Wiig. Some highlights from the earlier years include behind-the-scenes dirt about the ... Read More
Literature about oppression and social injustice usually sounds more interesting than it reads—and it doesn’t help that self-righteous activists make themselves redundant through repetition. Thankfully, in The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues, famed activist Angela Y. Davis proves that it’s still possible to find a new, refreshing way to discuss race, gender, class, and sexuality. In this heartfelt and on-point examination through ... Read More
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