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How Should a Family Eat? 'The Middlesteins'

In this expert blend of grit, intelligence, humor, and heart, there's something very "ABC Family" about Benny and Rachelle's household, along with the grim reality and necessary criticism of the modern family.

Books

An Astronaut Loses it All in 'The Infinite Tides'

The ambition of The Infinite Tides is awesome, the language is poetic, and the premise is at once romantic, terrifying, and ultimately life-affirming. But the book has its limitations.

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'My Heart Is an Idiot' Celebrates Love, Solidarity, and Adventure

Davy Rothbart writes about losing at love, yes, but he models the adventurous life with aplomb, traveling through small, dusty towns with an open mind and heart, meeting diverse souls and collecting unbelievable stories along the way. This is one terrific memoir.

Books

'Occupy' is Passionate, but Not Pragmatic

Occupy identifies plenty of problems, but it doesn’t help protesters clarify their mission, and that's what's really needed.

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Zuccotti Park

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Fluent and Poetic: Adam Wilson's 'Flatscreen'

Flatscreen may have some uneven patches, but when it’s funny, it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious, and when it’s sad, it can make a reader feel soul-sick.

Books

Maurice Sendak and the Middle School Wild Things

This kid in my class was only 11, but there was a sort of world-weariness about him. Life was tough. Where the Wild Things Are reminded him of his former innocence, even as it spoke to his inner fierceness.

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Alison Bechdel's 'Are You My Mother?' Reveals a Graphic, Independent Mind

Like her previous memoir about her father -- the acclaimed and prismatic Fun Home -- Are You My Mother? blends textbook academia, beautifully emotive drawings, and generous confessions to find some familial recovery after years of discord.

Books

There's a Lot of Teeth Gnashing in Elisabeth Badinter's 'The Conflict'

Are women forgoing motherhood because they're afraid they'll fall short of the ideal of the "good mother"? Badinter makes an occasionally convincing if myopic case for that, but frankly, I hope not.

Reviews

A Conversation with Rachel Maddow: 21 April 2012 - Milwaukee

The MSNBC political commentator drew thousands to Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater Saturday, April 21.

Books

On President Obama's Mother: 'A Singular Woman' and Her Egalitarian Spirit

This book reveals Stanley Ann to be an intellectually curious, passionate, idealistic, and unconventional woman whose sense of wonder and love shaped the lives of two children -- including the one that would become the 44th president of the United States.

Books

'Nothing' Is Filled with Insuppressible Imagination

Blake Butler titled his first work of nonfiction Nothing, but it could have just as easily been called Everything

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Crown Archetype

Books

Our Animals, Ourselves: Jenny Diski's 'What I Don't Know About Animals'

Don’t be fooled by the cover. Jenny Diski’s book isn’t really about animals; it’s about us.

Books

'Poker Face': The Intelligent Design of Lady Gaga

Is Lady Gaga a true artist or a con artist? To quote Gaga herself, "Whatever."

Books

History Repeats Itself in 'Blueprints for Building Better Girls'

Despite the passage of time, the women in Elissa Schappell’s book find that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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