Book reviews |

Book reviews

“Odd Girl Out; the hidden culture of aggression in girls”

By Rachel Simmons


“Do you think there are differences between the ways guys are mean to each other and the ways girls are mean to each other?”

This is the question journalist Rachel Simmons asked girls between the ages of 10 and 14. The conversations that resulted from these interviews, done over a year at 10 different schools, form the basis for a large part of this fascinating book.

Exploring some of the same themes that award-winning novelist Margaret Atwood did in “Cat’s Eye,” Simmons includes anecdotes that confirm girls are not always “nice” and reveal there is a “hidden culture of silent and indirect aggression” among girls.

This is not news to many women who may remember painful incidences of emotional cruelty from their own girlhood. However, her insightful analysis of causes and innovative ideas about how to change this dynamic are intriguing.

Teachers and parents who may have been unaware of this form of subtle bullying, or if they suspected it, felt powerless to intervene, and women of all ages will find this provocative book to be a catalyst for discussion.

There is an exhilarating freedom in speaking the truth, and this is one of the messages of this book.

– Shirley Benedick

Grass Valley

“Nobody’s Perfect”

Writings from the New Yorker

By Anthony Lane

Alfred A. Knopf

Why should anyone read a collection of old movie reviews? Because in this collection from New Yorker reviewer and essayist Anthony Lane, the reviews may be more entertaining than the films.

Lane has written for the New Yorker since 1993 when he was hired to replace Paulene Kael. This book collects his film reviews, book reviews and profiles. It is lively, funny and opinionated. Lane is young, British and a terrible smart aleck.

He believes that reviews should be lively arguments between the reader and the reviewer. Of this collection, he says, “If this book has any concrete effect, it will be, I hope, in a small back room in a country town, where a reader will suddenly jump up and down in unprecedented fury, enraged by my appraisal of ‘Speed’ or ‘The Bridges of Madison County,’ and bang his head on the ceiling.”

Lane begins his prickly review of “Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace” with “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far way, people made movies with people in them, and some of these movies made sense.”

Subjects of the book reviews include cookbooks, Ian Fleming, T. S. Eliot and Evelyn Waugh. The profiles include Lane’s visit to a sing-along version of “The Sound of Music,” where he observed fans costumed as Nazi’s, nuns, and brown paper packages

Tied up with string. There are also marvelous essays on Buster Keaton, Walker Evans and Alfred Hitchcock.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves films and fine, funny writing.

– Larry Miller

Grass Valley

“Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men”

by Lundy Bancroft

G. P. Putnam’s Sons

“Why Does He do That?” should be read by anyone who has been affected by domestic violence. Lundy Bancroft has been a therapist for abusive men for 15 years.

In his book he tells how angry and controlling men destroy their family’s lives. He profiles nine types of abusers and tells how they manipulate their families, law enforcement and the court system.

The stories in these chapters were right out of my life. As a victim of domestic violence for 32 years, this was the final validation I needed that I was not crazy.

Broken furniture, holes punched in walls, angry yelling, threats to torch the house, welts, verbal attacks, guns taken to pets and people. These are all things I lived through and topics covered in this book.

The threat to kill our 16-year-old with a shotgun sent me to see Pastor Richard who said, “You don’t need marriage counseling, you need to call the sheriff.” It has been a long road, and we’re still not there yet.

But thanks to Joanna DeSena, Dr. Stratigakis, Jan Minch, the Domestic Violence and Assault Coalition, R.E.A.C.H. counseling and Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That?,” we are on our way.

– Linda Menge (Hathorne)

Grass Valley

Various authors

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