Arts & Culture


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Next! The Power of Reinvention in Life and Work
Joanne Lipman ’83.
(Mariner Books/HarperCollins, $32)
The COVID pandemic shook many of us to our cores, causing large numbers of people to reevaluate their work and their lives. Pulling off “a global reset” is hard work, says Lipman, so she has developed a “Reinvention Road Map” to transformation. “There is a path to meaningful change,” she writes. Lipman presents a wide array of successful reinventors, from the adman-turned-bestselling-novelist James Patterson to the budget-analyst-turned-star-chef Ina Garten.

The Critic’s Daughter: A Memoir 
Priscilla Gilman ’93, ’02PhD.
(W.W. Norton, $28.95) 
“I am haunted by my father,” confesses Gilman, in this loving and, appropriately, critical look at her life with her dad: the brilliant and iconoclastic literary critic and Yale drama school professor Richard Gilman, who died in 2006. But her memoir is far more than either an account of her time with this “complicated and unclassifiable man” or a meditation on critics and criticism. She provides “an attempt at exorcism,” in which she tries to move past the role she played in her father’s life as the “happy, resilient, reliable one who counseled and supported, cheered up and calmed others.”

Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America
Dahlia Lithwick ’90.
(Penguin Press, $29) 
The author, a “professional court-watcher,” journalist, and podcaster, opens her ultimately hopeful book in 2016 as a majority of Supreme Court justices, three of them women, shredded a Texas abortion restriction law as unconstitutional. That case, writes Lithwick, “offered a sense that women in the United States had achieved some milestone that would never be reversed.” This assessment proved premature, for “the law is always in motion,” she notes. She profiles women such as voter rights advocate Stacey Abrams ’99JD and refugee rights lawyer Becca Heller ’10JD, countering a “drift backward to a time when men made policy and women made dinner.”

Madness at the Movies: Understanding Mental Illness through Film
James Charney, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine.
(Johns Hopkins University Press, $39.95)
When psychiatrist and cinephile Charney goes to the movies, cinema often winds up on the analyst’s couch. Films “help us understand what living with a mental illness feels like,” he writes, in this look at classic movies that depict various species of madness—from Through a Glass Darkly to, of course, Psycho. The book is drawn from the popular seminar course that Charney taught for many years; it includes a detailed summary of each film, followed by an account of the mental illness it portrays.

The Ghost at the Feast: America and the Collapse of World Order, 1900–1941
Robert Kagan ’80.
(Alfred A. Knopf, $35)
“Power changes everything,” declares Kagan, a leading neoconservative scholar, as he begins this look at how the United States began to change the isolationist mindset that had dominated American thinking since the country’s inception. In the first half of the last century, the US decided to engage with and lead the world through two major wars, numerous minor conflicts, and an uneasy peace. The author provides a readable analysis of how the “confusion and dissonance that came from being a hegemonic world power with a small, isolated nation’s worldview” played out—and continues to “roil” the globe.

The Sloth Lemur’s Song: Madagascar from the Deep Past to the Uncertain Present
— Alison Richard, Franklin Muzzy Crosby Professor Emerita of the Human Environment.
(University of Chicago Press, $27) In 1968, the author, then an anthropology student at the University of Cambridge—the institution she would eventually lead after a career as Yale professor and provost—attended a lecture on the lemurs of Madagascar. She was “instantly hooked” on this “crucible for the evolution of a grand diversity of life, for plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth.” Her decades of lemur research and conservation work make her the perfect guide to its history.

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