by Nick McDonell ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 22, 2023
An eloquent and compelling study.
A bestselling novelist and journalist reflects on how the ruling class perpetuates its own privilege.
McDonell (b. 1984) grew up in a wealthy, well-connected Manhattan family. His mother is a writer, and his father has served as an editor at Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated. Friendships with Upper East Side elites, attendance at prestigious schools like Buckley, Harvard, and Oxford, and travel to exotic locations were all part of his birthright within “The Fortress” of privilege. Where he differed from many of his peers was in how close he stood to the “ninety-nine percent.” Just one generation removed from the working- and middle-class families that made them, the author's new-rich father and mother understood “how rare” their son’s upbringing was. McDonell only began to see how charmed that life really was after his parents connected him to a publisher who helped transform his writing aspirations into a lucrative career. The author readily admits that he, like all members of The Fortress, existed within a bubble that spared them from “the societal traumas of racism, poverty [and] state violence. We never even had to wait in line, really.” Set apart from the realities of those living difficult, just-scraping-by lives, they were also encouraged to believe in the meritocracy that masked “a profound entitlement” to the resources that supported a luxurious lifestyle—just as they were taught the (superficial) lessons of noblesse oblige that ultimately did little to change a global system designed to benefit them. Like Quiet Street, the stretch of East Harlem through which Buckley sporting event buses sometimes ran, wealth demanded moving in denial of race and class violence rather than actively speaking out against social injustice. As McDonell illuminates a rarified world of money, power, and connections, he also offers candidly sobering insight into the systemic cultural mechanisms designed to protect long-standing social inequalities.An eloquent and compelling study.
Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2023
Page Count: 144
Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023
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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.
Awards & Accolades
The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.
Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.
Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020
Page Count: 272
Publisher: Celadon Books
Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020
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by Matthew Desmond ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2023
A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.
“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
Pub Date: March 21, 2023
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023
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