Nonfiction, January 18, 2019 | Xpress Reviews

The sensation listeners get at the end of the last track of a wonderful recording; a welcomed addition to the parenting literature; for readers who are interested in aspirational lifestyle cooking; for Pat Conroy’s many fans

Week ending January 18, 2019

Abdurraqib, Hanif. Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest. Univ. of Texas. Feb. 2019. 215p. ISBN 9781477316481. pap. $16.95. MUSIC
Poet and critic Abdurraqib (They Can t Kill Us Until They Kill Us) has written “a love letter to a group, a sound and an era.” This is an examination of the cultural, social, and personal influences that resulted in rap group a Tribe Called Quest’s best work as well as a study of the lasting legacy of their music. But it’s more than a musical analysis; Abdurraqib frames himself as a participant in the story. His journey is integral as the music weaves into his existence, and he conveys the passion felt when art gives voice to our lives. This is his homage, written at times directly to readers and at others to the members of the group. Anyone who has ever loved a band knows what he’s feeling.
VERDICT Abdurraqib evokes the sensation listeners get at the end of the last track of a wonderful recording, that recognition of having just heard something remarkable. His perceptive work will drive fans back to the original music.—Bill Baars, formerly with Lake Oswego P.L., OR

Chakravarthy, Janaki. From Broke to Breadwinner: The Single Mom’s Guide to Financial Independence and More. Morgan James. Jan. 2019. 129p. ISBN 9781642790221. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781642790238. CHILD REARING
In her early 30s, Chakravarthy took on the role of single mom. Living in Bangalore, India, in the early 1990s, the author was forced to navigate not only social stigma but also the professional, personal, and financial challenges that come with the responsibility of solo parenting. In a culture and time period in which arranged marriages were still the norm, living with in-laws was common, and women were taught to be obedient and respectful. Here, Chakravarthy shares her recipe for success: six ingredients to move a single mom from broke to breadwinner, while offering stories of those who have found financial freedom using these techniques. Each chapter includes a summary of the method as well as questions designed to help readers develop an action plan.
VERDICT Succinct and straightforward, this quick read presents a simple formula to implement and is a welcomed addition to the parenting literature.—Julia M. Reffner, North Chesterfield, VA

Connell, Raewyn. The Good University: What Universities Actually Do and Why It’s Time for Radical Change. Zed: Univ. of Chicago. Feb. 2019. 208p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781786995414. $95; pap. ISBN 9781786995407. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9781786995438. ED
According to Connell (emerita, education, Univ. of Sydney), universities around the world are facing a crisis. Historically, they served the elite, and policies, curricula, and research agendas emphasizing the Western tradition continue to sideline those from marginalized populations, resulting in social and economic inequalities. Drawing on international studies, Connell demonstrates that the trend toward corporate-style management, buoyed by government subsidies, has shifted the university’s goals from research, teaching, and service to an emphasis on prestige and competition, which has led, in part, to devastating student debt. Outsourcing of support services and reliance on adjunct faculty lessen employee commitment, challenge academic freedom, and create a disconnect between teaching and research. Fortunately, Connell provides a glimpse of the good university: sustainable, open to all, truthful in its operations, and supportive of academic freedom and research that responds to social needs. Such an institution, steeped in cooperation, not competition, will require government commitment and tax support.
VERDICT The scholarly writing may be a bit dry for some readers; however, those with an interest in higher education’s role in society and the economy will be drawn to this astute work.—Lydia Olszak, Bosler Memorial Lib., Carlisle, PA

Guy-Hamilton, Katzie. Clean Enough: Get Back to Basics and Leave Room for Dessert. Experiment. Jan. 2019. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9781615194902. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781615195077. COOKING
This cookbook by Guy-Hamilton, the food director for the Equinox Fitness chain, is split into two distinct portions: “Clean” and “Enough.” “Clean” includes grain bowls, salads, and recipes heavy on spices and ingredients thought to have some physical and/or spiritual benefit. The goal is to create meals that are vegetarian, nutritionally balanced, and infused with high-end, sometimes hard-to-find ingredients such as Himalayan pink salt, bee pollen, and specific varieties of pistachio, kale, and gelatinized maca root. The author frames this section with a set of short essays outlining her career switch from pastry chef to someone involved with “high end luxury fitness” and includes a bit of life coaching, urging readers to try eating healthy, exercising, and establishing a spiritual practice. “Enough” is a fairly straightforward approach to desserts, including several meringues, puddings, frostings, and ganaches. The theory is that, taken together, the two halves of the book will encourage readers to eat “clean enough.” While there is data outlining the benefits of various foodstuffs, the cookbook notably lacks information on how to source the more hard-to-find ingredients.
VERDICT For readers who are interested in aspirational lifestyle cooking.—Rebecca Brody, Westfield State Univ., MA

Mewshaw, Michael. The Lost Prince: A Search for Pat Conroy. Counterpoint. Mar. 2019. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9781640091498. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781640091504. LIT
Mewshaw, who has written fiction, memoir, and literary biography (e.g., Sympathy for the Devil: Four Decades of Friendship with Gore Vidal ), first came to know the late novelist Pat Conroy ( The Prince of Tides; The Great Santini) when they were both young writers living in Rome. Their wives and children were close, and the two men seemed to develop a friendship based on their shared experience as American authors living abroad. Mewshaw recognized Conroy’s talents and understood his personal failings quite intimately, and this aspect of their relationship is documented here as Mewshaw grapples with the impact of Conroy (1945–2016) requesting a most unpleasant favor of his friend. After the incident, the two men never saw each other again, but Conroy did later encourage Mewshaw to write about him. This book results as a promise Mewshaw made to Conroy, as he discusses without sentimentality or blame the complexities and difficulties of long-term friendships.
VERDICT For Conroy’s many fans and for scholars interested in a fuller picture of the author’s inner conflicts.—Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence

Picard, Liza. Chaucer’s People: Everyday Lives in Medieval England. Norton. Mar. 2019. 368p. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9781324002291. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781324002307. HIST
Picard uses the characters from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as a framework to illuminate life during the Middle Ages, specifically, 14th-century England; a modern reader does not need to be familiar with the Tales in order to read this book. Because it is not written in any chronological order but, rather, uses the occupations of Chaucer’s characters as overarching themes, the book allows readers to meander through that period. From that time in history, the author uses each character as a stepping-off point to discuss various aspects of medieval life. This stylistic device may be off-putting to some, but because the focus is on life experiences and not history, it works well.
VERDICT Anyone interested in history will find something to like about this delightful work and even people who are well instructed in the time period will find it enjoyable.—Laura Hiatt, Fort Collins, CO

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