As Wonder Woman might say, Suffering Sappho! This book is fascinating, fun, and consistently enlightening.

THE HEROINE WITH 1001 FACES

From Penelope and Pandora to Katniss Everdeen and Lisbeth Salander, the "hero's journey" gets a much-needed makeover.

In her latest, Tatar—the Harvard professor of folklore and mythology and Germanic languages and literature who has annotated collections of classic fairy tales, Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, among others—begins by pointing out that all of the faces of heroism discussed in Joseph Campbell's influential book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949), are male. To correct this requires a revision of the concept of heroism itself, rooted in numerous foundational texts. Starting with Greek mythology and Scheherezade and moving through the centuries all the way to the Game of Thrones series and The Queen's Gambit, Tatar incisively explores women's reinvention of heroism to embrace empathy, compassion, and care, often to pursue social justice. Among the many high points in this engaging study: an analysis of Little Women and Anne of Green Gables as autofiction, Jurassic Park as a reimagining of “Hansel and Gretel,” Harriet the Spy as an antiheroine, and a deep dive into the backstory of Wonder Woman. Receiving their own chapters are female sleuths such as Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, and the less well known characters of Kate Fansler, an academic, and Blanche White, who is Black. The book really takes off when it gets to contemporary culture, particularly in a section that identifies a female version of the "trickster" archetype in Everdeen and Salander. Of this lineage, among the shared interesting traits not traditionally associated with women characters is a prodigious appetite. "Like Gretel, Pippi Longstocking, and Lisbeth Salander before her,” writes Tatar, “Katniss gorges on rich food yet her hunger never ceases." The text is illustrated with many reproductions of paintings and other artwork—including a postcardworthy panel from the original Wonder Woman—that add much to the text.

As Wonder Woman might say, Suffering Sappho! This book is fascinating, fun, and consistently enlightening.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-881-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Lorde’s big heart and fierce mind are at full strength on each page of this deeply personal and deeply political collection.

THE CANCER JOURNALS

The groundbreaking Black lesbian writer and activist chronicles her experience with cancer.

In her mid-40s, Lorde (1934-1992) was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy. Through prose, poems, and selected journal entries beginning six months after the surgery, the author explores the anger, pain, and fear that her illness wrought. Her recovery was characterized by resistance and learning to love her body again. She envisioned herself as a powerful fighter while also examining the connection between her illness and her activism. “There is no room around me in which to be still,” she writes, “to examine and explore what pain is mine alone—no device to separate my struggle within from my fury at the outside world’s viciousness, the stupid brutal lack of consciousness or concern that passes for the way things are. The arrogant blindness of comfortable white women. What is this work all for? What does it matter if I ever speak again or not?” Lorde confronts other tough questions, including the role of holistic and alternative treatments and whether her cancer (and its recurrence) was preventable. She writes of eschewing “superficial spirituality” and repeatedly rejecting the use of prosthesis because it felt like “a lie” at precisely the time she was “seeking new ways of strength and trying to find the courage to tell the truth.” Forty years after its initial publication and with a new foreword by Tracy K. Smith, the collection remains a raw reckoning with illness and death as well as a challenge to the conventional expectations of women with cancer. More universally, Lorde’s rage and the clarity that follows offer us a blueprint for facing our mortality and living boldly in the time we have. This empowering compilation is heartbreaking, beautiful, and timeless.

Lorde’s big heart and fierce mind are at full strength on each page of this deeply personal and deeply political collection.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-14-313520-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale.

MADHOUSE AT THE END OF THE EARTH

THE BELGICA'S JOURNEY INTO THE DARK ANTARCTIC NIGHT

A harrowing expedition to Antarctica, recounted by Departures senior features editor Sancton, who has reported from every continent on the planet.

On Aug. 16, 1897, the steam whaler Belgica set off from Belgium with young  Adrien de Gerlache as commandant. Thus begins Sancton’s riveting history of exploration, ingenuity, and survival. The commandant’s inexperienced, often unruly crew, half non-Belgian, included scientists, a rookie engineer, and first mate Roald Amundsen, who would later become a celebrated polar explorer. After loading a half ton of explosive tonite, the ship set sail with 23 crew members and two cats. In Rio de Janeiro, they were joined by Dr. Frederick Cook, a young, shameless huckster who had accompanied Robert Peary as a surgeon and ethnologist on an expedition to northern Greenland. In Punta Arenas, four seamen were removed for insubordination, and rats snuck onboard. In Tierra del Fuego, the ship ran aground for a while. Sancton evokes a calm anxiety as he chronicles the ship’s journey south. On Jan. 19, 1898, near the South Shetland Islands, the crew spotted the first icebergs. Rough waves swept someone overboard. Days later, they saw Antarctica in the distance. Glory was “finally within reach.” The author describes the discovery and naming of new lands and the work of the scientists gathering specimens. The ship continued through a perilous, ice-littered sea, as the commandant was anxious to reach a record-setting latitude. On March 6, the Belgica became icebound. The crew did everything they could to prepare for a dark, below-freezing winter, but they were wracked with despair, suffering headaches, insomnia, dizziness, and later, madness—all vividly capture by Sancton. The sun returned on July 22, and by March 1899, they were able to escape the ice. With a cast of intriguing characters and drama galore, this history reads like fiction and will thrill fans of Endurance and In the Kingdom of Ice.

A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984824-33-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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