LITERATURE

Nothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why: Essays

Norton. Jun. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9780393439823. $25.95. LIT
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As life in America grows increasingly absurd, but rarely funny, Petri (A Field Guide to Awkward Silences) wields satire like a shiv to break readers out of existential prison. These 54 essays mostly succeed in describing, deconstructing, and—with quick-draw humor that should be carried in a holster—destroying frequently political targets. Depending on one’s “leanings,’’ the coverage (both new and adapted from the author’s Washington Post columns) might prove as divisive as the current administration’s policies and protocols. At the very least, each piece is entertaining, a refreshing antidote against the air of oppressive news and free-floating anxiety. Riffing on Beckett, “Waiting for Pivot: A GOP Tragicomedy” is as inarguably brilliant as its literary source. Nihilism, and/or remaining stoic, is finally—like all values—irrelevant in an unhuman universe seething with nothingness, or in a crisis-culture apparently ill-equipped to manage itself. “What To Call Racist Remarks Instead of Calling Them Racist Remarks’’ provides more than 20 euphemisms for those in need, including “Very fine remarks,’’ “Heritage-loving remarks,’’ and “Rally remarks.”
VERDICT These writings will appeal to a broad range of readers and even stand up (pun intended) against the most well-fortified sensibilities. Men possessing low tolerance to alienation, however, are warned.

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