OUTsider by Ruth Marimo41mh4gjqj7l-_sx321_bo1204203200_

publication date: 2014
pages: 248
ISBN: 978-0-9895868-0-1

This book had two things going for it: a heartfelt and genuine tone and a thought-provoking account of a person not often represented in the media.

OUTsider was the autobiography of Ruth Marimo, a gay, undocumented immigrant activist originally born in Zimbabwe. The book detailed her struggles of being an orphan in Zimbabwe, the confusing events that led to her living in America at nineteen without a status, her abusive marriage, and her self-discovery as a lesbian and an activist.

Marimo was very open about much of her life, including her struggles with her sexuality, her noxious relationship, and her status as an undocumented immigrant. That sincerity and candor was often effective, as in this passage from shortly after Marimo arrived in the States:

At first, I was very alarmed and upset that I had come to this country so ill prepared. I had not been treated well, and I had to work real hard for everything I had.
I was nineteen.
I was a kid.
For the past year, I had fended for myself so far away from home and from any assistance. Now, with my predicament, I simply had to do whatever I could to survive. I shopped for all my clothes at the Goodwill . . . .

The ardent nature of the writing and the important subject matter, especially surviving a physically abusive relationship, was enough to recommend the book. However, the book had some problems.

The writing was self-indulgent, like a journal or diary, as though Marimo was using the writing process to work through her own problems. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with using writing as a tool, but then don’t sell the book to others as something that would interest them.

Also, the writing could be very disorienting. Parts were contradictory, from the smallest lines to entire passages. As just one small example, early in the book, Marimo said she was “really in love” with a young woman named Belinda when she was around 16. Then, only nine sentences later, she said she fell in love with a young man named Masimba at 17, and this “was the first time I was truly in love with someone.” Entire sections contained these kinds of contradictions, which made the book confusing to read and lessened its effectiveness.

Additionally, Marimo did not have a coherent thesis beyond just the importance of her story and stories like hers. That was enough of a thesis for me, but the book seemingly strove for a more actionable thesis, and failed.

The book was a quick read and contained many illuminating passages about Marimo’s life and experience.

4/6: worth reading

Other reviews:


Dark Lover

Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino by Emily W. Leider9780374282394

publication date: 2003
pages: 423
ISBN: 0-374-28239-0

I picked this book up as I was wandering through the library. The title caught my eye because it was also the name of the first book of a romance series I sometimes read called The Black Dagger Brotherhood. When I started the book, I knew almost nothing about Rudolph Valentino and the era of silent movies.

Rudolph Valentino was an Italian man born in 1895. He moved to New York City when he was 18, where he became a dancer and an actor in bit parts. His first big break was in 1921 as the lead in the successful silent movie The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. That role led to many more parts and to him being a new kind of sex symbol: the dark and mysterious, maybe even a little evil, lover. He had a short and powerful career and died at the age of 31 of stomach ulcers.

Dark Lover was obviously well-researched. Leider described Valentino’s life in great detail and included several passages about the biographies of the people closest to him, including his immediate family and his wives and friends. Leider also uncovered facts about Valentino’s life that had been forgotten or had been wrongly presented in other accounts of Valentino.

Although Leider’s writing did not sparkle with wit or originality, she did present a fun tone throughout the book, and an undeniable passion for the subject. Here was her description of the negative implication of Valentino dancing for money when he first arrived in New York:

American opinion found nothing strenuous in dancing done by men, whether in ballets or ballrooms. [Russian male dancer] Nijinsky, who appeared in New York in 1916 with the Ballets Russes, was slammed in the press for being effete. To move with graceful insinuation, wear citified evening clothes, show off, and make a woman sigh as you swept her across the floor – sorry, it just wouldn’t do, especially if the woman was picking up the tab. The [dancer’s] slicked-back hair became a symbol of what made him suspect. Instead of being rugged and leathery like a 100 percent American, his oiled hair and manner made him “smooth” and slithery, like the fabled snake in the grass.

The book also contained three different sets of photographs. Leider found some wonderful pictures of Valentino, including a photo of a shirtless Valentino wearing skintight goatskin pants and playing a flute.

For me, the book was about one hundred pages too long. Leider included a lot of detail throughout the book, from her descriptions of Valentino’s clothes and purchases to the summaries of his movies. Someone with more than a passing interest in Valentino’s life presumably would have found the content more engaging. To me, the book seemed repetitive at times and would drag on. Leider never elevated Valentino’s story to be more than just a recounting of facts.

3/6: more good than bad

other reviews:

The Guardian
London Review Of Books
Curled Up With a Good Book


Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons9780316306089

publication date: 2016
pages: 258
ISBN: 978-0-346-30608-9

Currently, the author Dan Lyons writes for the HBO show Silicon Valley. Five years ago Lyons was the technology editor at Newsweek. For a few years in between, Lyons worked at Boston tech start-up HubSpot. Disrupted chronicled that time.

At one point during the book, Lyons stated that the main purpose of Disrupted was to be funny and provide some entertainment for the reader. There were certainly many parts that were funny, especially because this was all presumably an accurate representation of what actually happened to Lyons while he worked at HubSpot. The book was full of so much corporatespeak and other business world gems. For example, here was Lyons’s explanation of the explicit and written “culture code” of HubSpot:

The culture code asks, “What does it mean to be HubSpotty?” and then defines the meaning of that term explaining a concept that Dharmesh [a cofounder] called HEART, an acronym that stands for humble, effective, adaptable, remarkable, and transparent. These are the traits that HubSpotters must possess in order to be successful. The ultimate HubSpotter is someone who can “make magic” while embodying all five traits of HEART.

There was also this example of one of Lyons’s coworkers:

[She] calls herself a member of the management team even though she has no one reporting to her. “I manage a team of one,” she tells us one day in a department meeting, and by one she is referring to herself.

Sometimes the corporatespeak went beyond eccentricity and self-aggrandizement and became sinister. Whenever someone quit or got fired, management at HubSpot always referred to it as “graduation:”

In my first month at HubSpot I’ve witnessed several graduations, just in the marketing department. . . . Somehow [the employee’s] boss will have arranged his disappearance without anyone knowing about it. . . . Nobody ever talks about the people who graduate, and nobody ever mentions how weird it is to call it “graduation.”

Although Lyons’s writing was often entertaining or enlightening, it was obvious that much of the book was written to give Lyons closure and vindication for working at a place he didn’t understand and hated and that sometimes treated him poorly. Many passages in the book contained personal screeds against HubSpot and the people who worked there.

This defensive and judgmental tone pervaded the book. Here were Lyons’s initial impressions of the people he worked for:

Nine months ago I was the technology editor of Newsweek. In that job I did not even notice people like Zack, or Wingman, or even Cranium. They are the kind of people whose calls I would not return, whose emails I deleted without opening. Even [the founders] were such small fry that I probably would not have taken the time to meet them for coffee, and I certainly would not have written about them. And Zack? Good grief. He’s five years out of college . . . .

The book was interesting and informative, but the whole thing was colored by the author’s screechy and judgmental tone.

3/6: more good than bad

other reviews:

New York Times
Venture Beat

I Think You’re Totally Wrong

9780385351942I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel by David Shields and Caleb Powell

publication date: 2015
pages: 261
ISBN: 978-0-385-35194-2

I Think You’re Totally Wrong was just two dudes arguing. Literally. The book was an edited transcript of Shields and Powell’s discussions on a three-day weekend they took for the explicit purpose of arguing with each other. As Shields said about midway through the book: “It’s an ancient form: two white guys bullshitting.” You might be wondering, as I was, did we really need to rehash this old song and dance again? Well I’ll tell you: I loved it.

I had not read these two authors before, but they obviously followed literary and political news and trends. They also did not shy from being brutally honest with each other and with themselves. This meant that I Think You’re Totally Wrong was a voyeuristic Keeping Up With the Kardashians, but for those of us in the “Oh, I don’t have a TV” faction.

Here’s an example of them not holding anything back from each other, in a typically literary way:

CALEB: There’s something appealing in an artist who turns toward contradictions, a troubled and tormented artist who seeks pain. There’s mystique, validity, even credibility. You may disagree, but one thing I’ve observed in your writing is that you seem like you almost wish you had suffered more than you actually have.
DAVID: Then you’re a really bad reader and know nothing about my life.


And then sometimes Caleb would just get drunk and talk nonsense:

CALEB: I’ve gotta good sense of direction because of my Oriental background.
DAVID: You’re “Oriental”?
CALEB: I was born in Taiwan. I can orient. The shadows speak to the sun, the sun speaks to the shadows, and the sun and the shadows speak to you.

This all added up to a book that talked about a lot of important things: suffering, Art v. Life, morality — but was really about the main foundation of life: two people talking to each other. These were two people willing to be vulnerable and say their truth, even if it was contradictory or unpopular. For example:

CALEB: There are inferior and superior cultures.
DAVID: Wow. You’re saying that as a fact?
CALEB: It is a fact.
DAVID: I basically agree, but I don’t think you’re supposed to say that. . . .
CALEB: Asians and Africans are equal, but their cultures can’t be. No cultures are. Cultures evolve; politics changes. In India and China, men outnumber women by large margins in some regions because of gender-selective abortion . . . In some cultures, you’re not a woman until your aunt slices your clit off.

As I mentioned above, some might find this book annoying because of it’s myopic premise, but I thought it was funny, endearing, tense, and real.

5/6: seek this book out

other reviews:

Boston Globe
Huffington Post
The Stranger

The Witches

The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff9780316200608

publication date: 2015
pages: 498 (including notes, index, etc.)
ISBN: 978-0-316-20060-8

In The Witches, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff presented a picture of the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692. She mainly focused on the events of 1692, although she included a little background information and some of the shame-faced aftermath.

In and around Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, more than 100 people were jailed for witchcraft, over half of which confessed. Ultimately, 20 people were executed. The accusations began with four teenage women, who were afflicted with seizures and other maladies. The young women accused several, some of which accused several more, who in turn accused several more – until, in the fall of 1692, some 120 were accused. If an accused witch confessed, the courts were more lenient. Of all the accused who went to trial, only one had confessed to witchcraft – the rest denied until the end. By October of that year, 20 had been executed and the sitting governor of Massachusetts, astonished by the proceedings, dismissed the witchcraft court from any further trials. The trials picked back up again in 1693, but at that point the fervor had died down and the accused were found not guilty or were pardoned.

This book was incredibly well-researched and detailed. Schiff obviously spent time investigating primary sources and reading secondary sources. She included many incidents and episodes from that time period.

However, the book was muddled by Schiff’s tone and writing style. First, she wrote as though the accusations were truth, which she plopped down in the middle of discussions about the trials or about the village. That led to surreal and confusing passages.

Additionally, Schiff wrote in a very convoluted way. Here’s one of the more tiresome sentences:

And if you intended to live in a state of nerve-racking insecurity, in expectation of ambush and meteorological rebuke – on the watch for every brand of intruder, from the “ravening wolves of heresy” to the “wild boars of tyranny,” as a 1694 narrative had it – seventeenth-century Massachusetts, that rude and howling wilderness, was the place for you.

Further, she wrote in a sarcastic style, as though the whole episode was one big joke that the Puritans weren’t in on. For instance, after a short discussion about the torture that certain accused were subjected to, she included this (lame) joke:

Had [accused] Proctor attended the [witchcraft] hearings he might have commented on a different brand of torture: The authorities pummeled the Andover facts into shape.

I hate to cry “Too soon!” about torture and death that occurred over 300 years ago, but these were still peoples’ lives!

For anyone interested in this topic, I would recommend this book because it contained a lot of information. However, as an entertaining or thought-provoking read, The Witches left much to be desired.

3/6: more good than bad

Other reviews:

New York Times
Boston Globe
The Guardian

The Managed Heart

The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling by Arlie Russell Hochschild9780520239333

publication date: 1983
pages: 307 (including back matter)
ISBN: 0-520-04800-8

This book coined a term that recently came back into vogue: “emotional labor.” Emotional labor is the emotion work that most people do every day. It is schooling our face and body language to reflect only the emotion we want to reflect or, perhaps, even changing what we feel on the inside to better fit into or accept a situation. It is also the things we do to invoke or change emotions in others. The author, Arlie Hochschild, discussed emotional labor in broad terms, but the bulk of her discussion was focused on emotional labor as it is required or encouraged by our employers.

As Western society shifted from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy and now to a service-related economy, the amount of people who deal with other people at their job has increased. And anyone who deals with people at their job has probably been expected to perform emotional labor. To smile at customers and seem friendly and deferential. To inspire a sense of gratitude and understanding from a customer. These aren’t always things that we want to do for a customer and they are rarely discussed using precise terms like “emotional labor.” Instead, they are either not discussed at all or are couched in terms like “professionalism” and “customer service.” An example that Hochschild used often was the work of flight attendants.

This book had a lot of great points and made me rethink my concept of what an employee is obligated to do on the job. As Hochschild worded it:

Where the customer is king, unequal exchanges are normal, and from the beginning customer and client assume different rights to feeling and display. The ledger is supposedly evened by a wage.

She further stated:

When a flight attendant feels angry at a passenger . . . what does her anger signal? According to the teacher in [Delta Airline’s] Training, it indicates that she is mislocating herself in the world, that she is seeing the man who demands a smile in the wrong sort of way – that she is too oversensitive, too touchy. It does not signal a perception about how emotional display maintains unequal power between women and men, and between employees and employers. It indicates something wrong with the worker, not something wrong with the assumptions of the customer or the company. In this way the company’s purposes insinuate themselves into the way workers are asked to interpret their own feelings.

Do those things seem right? Why should I act and feel differently just because I’m getting paid? I enjoyed most of Hochschild’s discussions and conclusions.

However, her writing could be quite dense and confusing. She would throw out concepts that I hadn’t heard of and pile them on top of each other. A lot of discussions seemed irrelevant; or maybe I just didn’t understand them. Also, some of her endnotes were weird and completely off topic. Or sometimes her conclusions wouldn’t follow logically from her statements or data.

There were also some points she made that I just didn’t buy. For example:

The code of chivalry is said to require protection of the weaker by the stronger. Yet a boss may bring flowers to his secretary or open the door for her only to make up for the fact that he gets openly angry at her more often than he does at a male equal or superior; and more often that she does at him. The flowers symbolize redress, even as they obscure the basic maldistribution of respect and psychic cost.

You can’t just throw out a statement like that without any data, evidence, or explanation.

Overall, though, this book was very enlightening. I would recommend it to anyone who feels like they put on a face at work or anyone who manages those who put on a face at work.

4/6: worth reading

I couldn’t find any reviews for this book online, but here are its Amazon and Powell’s pages:


The Two-Income Trap

The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle Class Parents Are Going Broke by Elizabeth Warren & Amelia Warren Tyagi9780465090907

publication date: 2003
pages: 253 (including notes etc.)
ISBN: 10-0-465-09090-7

In The Two-Income Trap, written in 2003, Warren and Tyagi attempted to explain the financial problems facing the middle class. The main thrust of the book was that several factors came together to make middle-class families worse off financially than they were in previous generations.

In the first chapter, the authors demonstrated that families are currently worse off financially. At one point, they claimed that 13.5% of American families would declare bankruptcy between 2003 and 2010. This was also where they introduced their concept of the Two-Income Trap. The trap comes from the seeming security of a household that has two wage earners when, in actuality, a household with two wage earners is actually more financially vulnerable. Two-income families might have used both incomes to pay their fixed costs, so if a layoff or injury happened, then a two-income family would be less able to pay their bills. The two-income trap was further discussed in Chapter 3.

In the second chapter, the authors introduced the Over-Consumption Myth. According to Warren and Tyagi, middle-class financial problems are not caused by over-maxed credit cards, swiped for things like new TVs, vacation homes, and designer bags. Instead, the cost of housing, medical care, and childcare has increased exponentially, and it was those things that families accumulated debt for.

The authors introduced the Myth of the Immoral Debtor in Chapter 4, which stated that any idea we might have about a lack of honor or code among current American spenders and debtors is a misconception. Borrowers in 2003 were no less honorable than borrowers in the 50s, or the 30s, or the 1760s. This was probably the book’s most convincing chapter, with discussions on the lengths that banks, credit card companies, and other lenders will go to get people to borrow money. The authors continued this theme in Chapter 6, which contained their discussion of the de-regulation of the credit industry and the abuses that followed.

Chapter 5 discussed the problems facing the single-income family. The book concluded in Chapter 7 with the Financial Fire Drill, a set of questions and suggestions designed to protect a family from financial collapse. The Fire Drill didn’t contain anything revelatory: basically, try to decrease your expenses and investigate buying certain insurance policies.

The book was very prescient in some ways. It predicted the sub-prime mortgage collapse and the problems that would come from rampant lending. I am no expert on the American financial system, but there might be some things about the book that are no longer relevant, because the bankruptcy, banking, and credit industries look somewhat different now than they did in 2003.

There were some problems I had with the book. First of all, the authors never defined what made a family “middle class.” And why would I only care about this “middle class”? Why wouldn’t I be interested in the undue financial misfortunes of every type of family, especially the lower class? Using the undefined phrase “middle class” seemed to me like a move to endear themselves to people who think they are middle class – which is everyone!

Also, although the end notes were generally thorough and clear, sometimes the data did not support the authors’ conclusions or their numbers didn’t make any sense.

Overall, this was a better book than I was expecting, especially because one of the authors is in politics. Generally, political authors use more rants than facts. Although Warren and Tyagi peppered the book with hyperbolic language, they usually backed it up with data and some logic.

4/6: worth reading (I was close to giving this a 3/6, but it did contain some interesting points and facts)

other reviews:

The Finance Buff
Publishers Weekly
Mother Jones

Forest Dreams Forest Nightmares

Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares: The Paradox Of Old Growth In the Inland West by Nancy Langston

publication date: 1995
pages (including back matter) : 368
ISBN: 0-295-97456-7

For a book ostensibly about the decline in growth of Ponderosa pines in a small region of the Pacific Northwest, I found Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares to be surprisingly relatable.

In the book, Nancy Langston discussed the history of the Blue mountain range that spans the border between Oregon and Washington. At the time of her writing, the Blues had become a battleground between environmentalists, loggers, forest rangers, and bureaucratic government organizations. The history she gave of the Blues mainly encompassed the insertion of pioneers and ranchers in the 1880s up to the management by the Forest Service in the 1910s and the inadvertent destruction of the forest through the 1980s and 90s. Langston’s goal was to provide contemporary caretakers of the Blues with a way forward.

Being someone who is not overly interested in trees or plants or what Langston termed the “inland West,” I mainly picked up the book because I loved how melodramatic the title was. However, Langston wrote the book with such aplomb, I found myself constantly learning new and interesting things. Further, it is amazing how consistent human nature is, in its hubris and shortsightedness: from the Native Americans lighting fires in the forests decades before Americans arrived so they could ride their horses, to the loggers and ranchers in the 1920s who blamed the much milder sheepherders for any environmental damage done in the region because the sheepherders were often foreign, and to the overconfident Forest Service scientists in the 1940s who were so sure they knew what they were doing and instead brought in an era of unmanageable fires and insect invasions. Here is a long passage Langston shared about forest rangers attempting to reintroduce elk into the Blues after they had been hunted into extinction:

The history of elk reintroductions illustrates the ironic ways that attempts to save wild nature often led to the accelerated destruction of the wildness that people sought to preserve. . . . [In 1913], the [forest rangers] had to feed the [reintroduced] elk in stockyards for a month because of deep snow, and five more died and several calves were born prematurely and died. . . . The Association ran out of money to buy hay, and the elk were in danger of simply starving in the stockyards. . . . Finally one afternoon they drove them up to Benjamin Gulch on the edge of town. By morning all the elk had returned to the stockyards to be fed. Finally, in March, they drove the twenty-nine survivors to the Tumalum Creek at the north end of the Blues and released them in the forest, and this time they were too far to find their way back to the hay.

These are sad, confused stories of men who tried to manipulate wild things, which then refused to be wild, so people lost interest. . . . Reintroduction stories like the one recounted above are disturbing because people want wild nature to mean something.

The book’s explanations of its topic were interesting and sophisticated enough to keep me involved. However, Langston’s real masterstroke was that throughout all this, she told a story of American history and optimism. Of men (and a few women) who really thought they were doing right by god and country when they cut down old trees and grazed cattle until the land was barren and always moved ever West to find the next paradise. This is a book that is so much more than its compelling subject matter.

5/6: seek this book out

Other reviews:

University Of Washington Press
Book Addiction

Cute, Quaint, Hungry and Romantic

Cute, Quaint, Hungry and Romantic: The Aesthetics of Consumerism by Daniel Harris 

publication date: 2000
pages: 265
ISBN: 0-465-02848-9

I present for you another bitter, overblown nonfiction book. How do I keep getting tricked into reading these? I guess that’s what happens when I judge a book by its cover (and title).

In Cute, Quaint, Hungry and Romantic, Harris attempted to enlighten us, dear readers, with all the aesthetics that marketers use to manipulate us into buying their stuff, from “cute” to “cleanness.” He was very very serious about his undertaking. Here’s a sample sentence that shows just how seriously, and non-sensically, he took it:

The stylistic distortions of the market-place often reflect tensions in our attitudes towards the things and people around us: towards our children, whose waywardness we seek to smother beneath the conventions of cuteness; towards parents, whose denial of adolescents’ sexuality and independence our offspring throw back in our faces by adopting the exaggerated mannerisms of coolness; and even towards computer software, whose gaudy aesthetic emerges from the anarchic aspirations of programmers who seek to hide from themselves the dull, bureaucratic realities of their lives.

That sentence got crazier and crazier until it was a great big WHAT?!?!

I don’t know why he took this topic so seriously and reacted to it so brutally. Sure, I’m not fan of manipulative marketing, but, as he admitted, he can’t see an alternative. Instead, in his infinite wisdom, he always felt:

[I]t is sufficient for me to destroy – to slash, to burn – and [I] have never felt any desire to formulate utopian solutions, not only because I wish to avoid blunting the full force of my skepticism and palliating my reader’s urgent need for happy endings, but because I frankly do not have any answers to offer, no five-year plan, no program for reform, no campaign for organizing the Great Leap Forward into paradise on Earth.

(If the above passages are not enough to convince you that the author is seemingly a pompous dick, maybe this will: in his acknowledgements he thanks his ex in a way that reminds everyone that they used to date and are now great friends, notwithstanding his ex’s new guy:

As always, I would like to thank my former lover Anthony Aziz and his current companion Sammy Cucher for their loyalty and friendship. Life wouldn’t be the same without these two tremendous friends.)

Maybe I could have found the book’s discussion of marketing and aesthetics interesting. Probably not. But it’s tough to tell because it was hard to look past the author’s excessive and silly analysis.

2/6: many problems

other reviews of the book:

Publishers Weekly
12 Frogs

In the Land of God and Man

In the Land of God and Man: Confronting Our Sexual Culture by Silvana Paternostro

publication date: 1998
pages: 326
ISBN: 0-525-94422-2

In In the Land of God and Man, Paternostro wove memoir and investigative journalism together as she discussed the perils of machismo in the Latin culture.

I loved the tone of this book and Paternostro’s voice. She was like a best friend telling me all these secrets, not because she wanted to but because she felt like they had to be told. Paternostro didn’t flinch from describing her own experiences and her own contributions to machismo culture.  She also didn’t hesitate to explore her moral quandaries concerning her subject matter and her investigative and interviewing techniques.  Here is a deliberation she had while interviewing a poor woman in a loveless, abusive marriage who seemed resigned to her fate and didn’t care about the feminist marches and meetings going on around her:

I knew that, no, Josefa had no idea what I was talking about, and that it was naive of me to try and engage her in a feminist dialogue. Shouldn’t I stop holding her responsible? She was too busy making ends meet, supporting her husband and taking care of her children. Civil liberties and political representation were not things she had time to be concerned with. Would I, if I had to worry about my husband keeping his job, coming home drunk or not at all, crawling into my bed after having paid for sex?

Paternostro’s questions about her own methods and motivations were refreshing. There were a few times, however, when her tone became presumptuous or hypocritical. For example, even though she paid lip service to the idea that transvestites were a maligned and underrepresented group in Latin America, she generalized about them and disdained their lifestyle:

Transvestites want to be as feminine as their [hair-styling] clients. They want to be beauty queens and señoras de sociedad. The hands plucking their clients’ eyebrows and dying their hair do it so well because the owners of those hands dream of having their clients’ lives.

Another issue with the book was its organization. Although most of the information Paternostro presented was interesting, it was disjointed. She would go from transvestites to street children to a housewife with AIDS, all in a couple pages. The book also was somewhat repetitive, although that is just something I’ve come to expect from nonfiction books.

Finally, the book, which was published in 1998, was sometimes outdated. Of course, Paternostro’s personal experiences and the interviews she presented could never be considered outdated because they are and always will be the facts of someone’s life. However, some of her data was no longer accurate, especially concerning Latin American laws that support a machismo culture.

If I reviewed this book when it first came out, I would give it a 5/6 because it was enlightening and stimulating; however, because parts of it are outdated, I’m giving it a:

4/6: worth reading

other reviews:

Foreign Affairs
Publishers Weekly
L.A. Times