An intimate, entertaining, and engrossing read for hip-hop fans.

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THE BADDEST BITCH IN THE ROOM

A MEMOIR

A blend of music industry 101, hip-hop history, and memoir from the Wu-Tang Clan’s muse.

For decades as a manager, marketer, and A&R rep, Chang helped talented men tell their stories through hip-hop and R&B. Now it’s her turn to tell her story: How did a “Korean Canadian French lit major” end up working with a who’s who of heavy hitters in the music industry—and getting relationship advice from Method Man? From a chance meeting with Joey Ramone as a college student in the late 1980s to working with the Wu-Tang Clan, one of the greatest rap groups of all time, Chang has a storied history in the industry. Her love for hip-hop—the music and the artists—comes through loud and clear in this deeply personal memoir. Now in her 50s, she reflects on her experiences, including her stint as head of a marketing department at Atlantic Records just two years out of college and working with artists like A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One, Too Short, and Raphael Saadiq. It’s clear why Chang gained a reputation for being hard and no-nonsense, and that comes across in the narrative. But she also shows her more vulnerable side: enduring the highs and lows of love and loss, reclaiming her sexual confidence after the end of a 12-year relationship, and learning to embrace her Asian heritage. The author writes wisely about erasure and fighting to be seen professionally as a woman of color. Unfortunately, aside from a vague mention of a Black woman friend calling her out on her privilege, she doesn’t address being embraced and respected as a non-Black woman within a music culture that often objectifies and denigrates Black women. This is a disappointing omission in an otherwise thoughtful and revealing story.

An intimate, entertaining, and engrossing read for hip-hop fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64622-009-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

RAGE

That thing in the air that is deadlier than even your “strenuous flus”? Trump knew—and did nothing about it.

The big news from veteran reporter Woodward’s follow-up to Fear has been widely reported: Trump was fully aware at the beginning of 2020 that a pandemic loomed and chose to downplay it, causing an untold number of deaths and crippling the economy. His excuse that he didn’t want to cause a panic doesn’t fly given that he trades in fear and division. The underlying news, however, is that Trump participated in this book, unlike in the first, convinced by Lindsey Graham that Woodward would give him a fair shake. Seventeen interviews with the sitting president inform this book, as well as extensive digging that yields not so much news as confirmation: Trump has survived his ineptitude because the majority of Congressional Republicans go along with the madness because they “had made a political survival decision” to do so—and surrendered their party to him. The narrative often requires reading between the lines. Graham, though a byword for toadyism, often reins Trump in; Jared Kushner emerges as the real power in the West Wing, “highly competent but often shockingly misguided in his assessments”; Trump admires tyrants, longs for their unbridled power, resents the law and those who enforce it, and is quick to betray even his closest advisers; and, of course, Trump is beholden to Putin. Trump occasionally emerges as modestly self-aware, but throughout the narrative, he is in a rage. Though he participated, he said that he suspected this to be “a lousy book.” It’s not—though readers may wish Woodward had aired some of this information earlier, when more could have been done to stem the pandemic. When promoting Fear, the author was asked for his assessment of Trump. His reply: “Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis.” Multiple crises later, Woodward concludes, as many observers have, “Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982131-73-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Fans of Seinfeld will eat this up, and aspiring comics will want to study how he shapes his seemingly effortless humor.

IS THIS ANYTHING?

“All comedians are slightly amazed when anything works.” So writes Seinfeld in this pleasing collection of sketches from across his four-decade career.

Known for his wry, observational humor, Seinfeld has largely avoided profanity and dirty jokes and has kept politics out of the equation. Like other schooled jokesters, perhaps most famously Bob Hope, he keeps a huge library of gags stockpiled, ever fearful of that day when the jokes will run out or the emcee will call you back for another set. “For the most part, it was the people who killed themselves to keep coming up with great new material who were able to keep rising through the many levels,” he recounts of his initiation into the New York stand-up scene. Not all his early material played well. The first piece in this collection, laid out sentence by sentence as if for a teleprompter, is a bit about being left-handed, which comes with negative baggage: “Two left feet. / Left-handed compliment. / Bad ideas are always ‘out of left field.’ / What are we having for dinner? / Leftovers.” He gets better, and quickly, as when he muses on the tininess of airplane bathrooms: “And a little slot for used razor blades. Who is shaving on the plane? And shaving so much, they’re using up razor blades. Is the Wolfman flying in there?” For the most part, the author’s style is built on absurdities: “Why does water ruin leather? / Aren’t cows outside a lot of the time?” It’s also affable, with rare exceptions, as when, taking on a mob boss persona, he threatens a child with breaking the youngster’s Play-Doh creations: “Nothing wrong with sending your child a little Sicilian message once in a while.” One wishes there were more craft notes among the gags, but the ones that are there are both inspiring and gnomic: “Stand-up is about a brief, fleeting moment of human connection.”

Fans of Seinfeld will eat this up, and aspiring comics will want to study how he shapes his seemingly effortless humor.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982112-69-1

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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