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Kate Tuttle

Writer & Critic

Kate Tuttle

Writing on books and authors, race and politics, family and childhood.

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'In the Country of Women' review: A family's strong female roots

"In the Country of Women" by Susan Straight Photo Credit: Catapult. IN THE COUNTRY OF WOMEN: A MEMOIR by Susan Straight (Catapult, 384 pp., $26) Some memoirs look deeply inward, examining how the self is formed in the crucible of the world. Susan Straight’s “In the Country of Women” works in the opposite way: addressed to the author’s three daughters, this is a book that spirals outward, gathering and illuminating stories of ancestors, family and community.
Newsday Link to Story
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In ‘Trick Mirror,’ the face of a major new talent

Back when she was 16, Jia Tolentino appeared on a reality television show called “Girls v. Boys: Puerto Rico,” in which a group of eight teenagers were set against each other to compete in a series of tasks in pursuit of a large cash prize. This was the fourth season of a show that began airing in 2003 — “the heyday of reality television,” Tolentino writes, “a relatively innocent time, before the bleak long trail of the industry had revealed itself.”.
The Boston Globe Link to Story
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Debut Book Tells Of The Real-Life Longings And Frustrations Of 'Three Women'

Female desire has been seen as a problem since long before Freud, vexed, wondered what on Earth women want. Entire vocabularies of insult are devoted to girls and women who dare to proclaim their existence as sexual beings. The protagonists in Lisa Taddeo's new book, Three Women, are not unusual in their complicated sexual histories; what makes their stories revolutionary is the exquisite candor with which Taddeo gives them voice.
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Review: ‘No Visible Bruises’ is both reportage and manifesto about domestic violence

Michelle and Rocky got together young, and quickly. By the time Michelle was just 17, the couple had two young children, but she still graduated from high school on time. Her family saw her as strong, smart, and proud. But they saw her less and less, as Rocky increasingly controlled her with violence and threats of violence.
Los Angeles Times Link to Story
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Writing stories that move like poems

Maryse Meijer’s debut was a short story collection. For her second book, the Chicago author experimented with new forms. “I really was tired of struggling with the connective tissue that you always have to pay attention to when you’re writing fiction,” Meijer said. “I was reading a lot of poetry, and I just admired how easily they could just cut to the idea or image or feeling that was the most potent.
The Boston Globe Link to Story
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Talking with Rebecca Traister about Angry Women

As a journalist, Rebecca Traister is always hoping her books are timely. Her first, “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” came out in 2010, soon after the bruising 2008 Democratic primary season she chronicled in its pages. Her second, “All the Single Ladies,” arrived in 2016, a celebration of women’s power at a time the country seemed poised to elect its first female president.
Los Angeles Times Link to Story
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Why a certain slur hasn’t gone away

The journalist Allison Yarrow remembers seeing an online quiz that surprised her. It invited users to learn “Which ’90s Bitch Are You?”. At the time, she was surprised — “I hadn’t really thought of the ’90s as returning for reassessment or nostalgic treatment” — but it sparked the idea for her new book.
The Boston Globe Link to Story
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Nigerian couple wrestles with infertility, political upheaval

Ayòbámi Adébáyò started working on “Stay With Me” in 2011. “I began with initially what I felt was a short story,” she said, of a married couple having their last fight before finally separating. “I felt that story was done, but I just felt there was something just beneath the surface that I was not able to access yet.” It took five years, and “at least seven” rewrites before the Nigerian author was ready to release her first novel.
The Boston Globe Link to Story
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Nancy Balbirer Finds Wisdom in Having a “Terrible Time”

In her first memoir,Take Your Shirt Off and Cry: A Memoir of Near-Fame Experiences, Nancy Balbirer shared some of the more extraordinary tales of her life as an actor, writer, and downtown New York fixture. Just a year after the book was published in 2009, Balbirer began a year of worry, change, and wrenching pain as she was losing her marriage and her beloved beagle, Ira, who was dying.
DAME Magazine Link to Story
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The Things Meg Wolitzer Knew Before We Did

The Female Persuasion is Meg Wolitzer’s tenth novel, and by any measure it’s big (more than 450 pages) and immersive, spanning decades in the lives of its characters, pondering everything from love and sex to work, politics, and professional disillusionment. At its center is a pair of women and the relationships they have with each other, their families, friends, and lovers.
DAME Magazine Link to Story
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A Sobering Meeting With ‘The Recovering’ Author Leslie Jamison

When Leslie Jamison’s book of essays, The Empathy Exams, came out in 2014, it established her as one of the stars of a new wave of women writing nonfiction that felt urgently relevant. The essays blended personal writing and journalism; Jamison’s point of view was powerful and flexible, encompassing both an expansive humanity and a jeweler’s eye for the strange and unsettling.
DAME Magazine Link to Story
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The women who wielded a pen like a weapon: Michelle Dean's 'Sharp'

In the 1987 movie "Broadcast News," a male colleague, angry at having to admit that Holly Hunter's character, a television producer, is right about something, shoots this line at her: "It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room." Hunter responds, huskily and urgently, a tear forming in her eye, "No, it's awful."
Los Angeles Times Link to Story

About

Kate Tuttle

I'm currently serving as President of the National Book Critics Circle. My reviews and articles about books have appeared in the Boston Globe, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Salon, Atlantic.com, and elsewhere. Native Kansan, longtime Cantabrigian, lately of Georgia, now in New Jersey. Mother, wife, pal.

Feel free to email me at kate.tuttle@gmail.com.