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Sunday, November 27th


Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men by Peggy Drexler Ph. D.

Keep mums

A review by Michele Pridmore-Brown

Until very recently, males guaranteed the legitimacy of a child. Without male ownership, a child was a bastard -- and its mother either a hapless victim or a harlot, depending on one's viewpoint. The mother was all too likely to slip down the socio-economic ladder; the child was likely to grow up in poverty; both mother and child were marginalized by society. In addition, modern conventional wisdom has it that a fatherless male child is also compromised psychologically: that a boy without a father figure is in a fundamental way psychically unmoored, resulting in perpetual immaturity, irresponsibility, gratuitous aggression, criminality and a host of other ills that affect society at large.

Currently, in the United Kingdom, nearly 25 per cent of families with children are headed by a lone mother, and in the United States that figure is moving towards one in three. That makes for a great many boys potentially marred for life. For some leaders, these figures evoke the spectre of...

The Tent by Margaret Atwood

From feminism to fairy tales: the musings of Margaret Atwood

A review by Yvonne Zipp

At this point in her career, Margaret Atwood is so revered that she could write a shopping list and someone would slap an award on it.

Which brings us to The Tent. Billed as fiction, it's a collection of previously published essays, poems, and musings -- ranging in length from one paragraph to three or four pages -- and illustrated by Atwood's own drawings. In many ways, it feels like a literary scrapbook, with pen-and-ink sketches in place of the calligraphy and fuzzy stickers.

Over the decades, the Booker Prize-winning Canadian has written science fiction, short stories, historical...

Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang by Ziyang Zhao

China's Dictators at Work: The Secret Story

A review by Jonathan Mirsky

Prisoner of the State is the secretly recorded memoir of Zhao Ziyang, once holder of China's two highest Party and state positions and the architect of the economic reforms that have brought the country to the edge of great-power status. The book has had much attention in the West. Inside China, despite official attempts to denigrate and block any news of it on the Internet, it is already having a powerful effect. This effect will increase as Chinese tourists from the mainland buy the Chinese edition of the book in Hong Kong.

Twenty years ago, just before the Tiananmen killings on June 3...

The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of about Fifty by Wilfrid Sheed

Torch Song

A review by Corby Kummer

Lyricists, not baseball players, were my heroes growing up, and as a young man I found a group of writers -- notably including my college mentor, William K. Zinsser, and Wilfrid Sheed -- who idolized both. They would fall easily into evenings around a piano, challenging each other to remember second verses and tricky bridges, and sometimes I got to sing along. Zinsser wrote a tribute to popular songwriters, Easy to Remember, and the great editor Robert Gottlieb (another early hero) compiled a largely proseless list of his favorite lyrics with the scholar Robert Kimball, Reading Lyrics; last...

Winnicott: Life and Work by F Robert Rodman

Dr. True Self

A review by Martha C. Nussbaum

Unlike Freud, Donald Winnicott is not a cultural icon, read in Great Books courses, revered and reviled. Unlike Jacques Lacan, he is not an intellectual cult figure, with a band of zealous disciples and an impenetrable jargon. There is no school of Winnicott; there are no courses in his methods. All this is as he wished it. Nobody was more skeptical of cults and the rigidities that they induced. All his life Winnicott was obsessed with the freedom of the individual self to exist defiantly, resisting parental and cultural demands, to be there without saying a word if silence was...

V. S. Pritchett: A Working Life by Jeremy Treglown

A review by Benjamin Schwarz

Can it be that this book's subject, who died merely eight years ago, has fallen as far from favor as Jeremy Treglown suggests? Sadly, he probably has, because although Victor Sawdon Pritchett (born the year before Victoria's death, he was named for the reigning monarch) wrote novels, travel books, biographies, and memoirs, by far his greatest accomplishments were as a short-story writer and a critic. As Treglown, the former editor of the TLS and the biographer of Henry Green and Roald Dahl, correctly avers, Pritchett was "the greatest writer-critic since Virginia Woolf," but this hardly...

Passed On: African American Mourning Stories: A Memorial by Karla FC Holloway

Ways of dying

A review by Josie Appleton

In traditional African American communities, the extravagance of a person's sending off would be far greater than anything they had experienced in life. Families would sometimes bankrupt themselves to pay for the finest cars or a large brass band. Funerals were an event involving the local church, neighbours and community organizations; distant relations would come home for a funeral. While white funerals tended to be short and restrained, black funerals were long, public and elaborate -- extravagant responses to African Americans' ongoing experience of violence at the hands of white America. ...

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