The Title is Just Brilliant

BrilliantLiterally. The title of essayist Joel Golby’s latest is:

Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant Brilliant
Hardback: $16.00
On Street: March 5, 2019
Anchor Books / Penguin Random House LLC

Staffer Joel Golby writes columns for Vice and is famous for his dry humor and naked self-reflection. (Did you notice that the “birthday candles” on his cake are actually cigarettes?)

To say these essays are funny is like saying koalas are furry. In the writing, he:

  • travels to Saudi Arabia and attends a “Westminster Dog Show for camels”
  • examines his frenemy, alcohol, an on-again-off-again relationship that he thinks of as “running along beside the wagon”
  • goes head to-head with the unpredictable, unpitying subspecies of Londoner known as the dread Landlord

Why It’s Worth Choosing

Because gosh darn it, sometimes you just have to laugh so you don’t cry. As in the essay called “Things You Only Know When Both Your Parents Are Dead”. Call it gallows humor, black humor, or whistling in the dark, if you’re Joel Golby’s people, you will know it.

Two Other Works of Brilliant Non-Fiction

NightNight in the American Village
by Akemi Johnson
Hardcover, $27.99
On Street: June 18, 2019 / The New Press

Most Americans know that after WWII, our troops were stationed in the countries of our former Axis foes. But unlike Germany–where those bases closed after the fall of the Berlin Wall–Japan still has American soldiers stationed in its country. And many Japanese aren’t happy about it.

In addition to the naval bases  in Yokohama, the US maintains  a vast complex of bases in Okinawa, and they have been in the news repeatedly when local women turn up missing–or dead.

In this thought-provoking look at the cultural and sexual politics of the American military empire, Fulbright scholar Johnson ventures deep into the Okinawan “border towns” surrounding the bases. She hears from:

  • Okinawans whose families survived WWII
  • protesters
  • women who date and marry American servicemen
    • and the groups that help them when trouble arises

Note: While considered by the nation of Japan to be a subgroup of the majority Yamato (Japanese) people, Okinawans’ DNA differs by 20%. And Okinawans have some commonalities with the Ainu, an indigenous group who lived on the islands before the Yamato arrived. Okinawan culture has some matriarchal elements, unique spiritual traditions, and an indigenous cuisine to which rice was a fairly late introduction (12th century).

Why It’s Worth Choosing

  • It got good reviews from Anthony Swofford, the author of Jarhead
  • Johnson is a compelling storyteller, having written for NPR and The Nation, and she is a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop
  • You will be an interesting conversationalist at parties on this serious topic

BeautifulThe Beautiful No:
And Other Tales of Trial, Transcendence, and Transformation

by Sheri Salata
Hardback, $26.99 
On street: June 4, 2019 / Harper Wave, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers

How would you feel if you woke up one day and discovered that while you have had the career of your dreams, you don’t have the life of your dreams, and you are 57 years old. Is it too late? This author’s answer is a resounding NO.

The Career: For 20 years, Sheri Salata worked for a combination of:

  • the Oprah Winfrey Show
  • Harpo Studios
  • the OWN Network

And yes, you have sensed a theme.

The Dream: To have a loving partner and fulfilling relationship, to be happy with her body, and to have supporting and supportive friendships. Surely every woman on earth can identify with these goals (unless, of course, they are happy being single. Nothing wrong with that!) Sheri just wasn’t.

Follow her on her journey to a better life as she:

  • dries out in the desert (detoxing)
  • braves humiliation at Hollywood’s favorite fitness studio
  • grapples with losses and grief
  • reinvents friendships
  • bares her fears and hangups in sex therapy

Why It’s Worth Choosing

It’s hopeful and could be quite helpful for other women facing a mid-life or post-mid-life crisis. It is empowering; the book won the 2017 Feminist Press Power Award. And of course, it is totally relatable.





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