The Witches Are Comingby Published 05 Nov 2019
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The Witches Are Coming Ebook Description
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A brilliant and incisive look at how patriarchy, intolerance, and misogyny have conquered not just politics but American culture itself.
What do Adam Sandler, Donald Trump, and South Park have in common? Why are myths like "reverse sexism" and "political correctness" so seductive? And why do movie classics of yore, from Sixteen Candles to Revenge of the Nerds, make rape look like so much silly fun? With Lindy West's signature wit and in her uniquely incendiary voice, The Witches are Coming lays out a grand theory of America that explains why Trump's election was, in many ways, a foregone conclusion.
As West reveals through fascinating journeys across the landscapes of pop culture, the lies that fostered the catastrophic resentment that boiled over in the 2016 presidential race did not spring from a vacuum. They have in fact been woven into America's DNA, cultivated by generations of mediocre white men and fed to the masses with such fury that we have become unable to recognize them as lies at all.
Whether it be the notion overheard since the earliest moments of the #MeToo movement that feminism has gone too far or the insistence that holding someone accountable for his actions amounts to a "witch hunt," The Witches are Coming exposes the lies that many have chosen to believe and the often unexpected figures who have furthered them. Along the way, it unravels the tightening link between culture and politics, identifying in the memes, music, and movies we've loved the seeds of the neoreactionary movement now surging through the nation.
Sprawling, funny, scorching, and illuminating, The Witches are Coming shows West at the top of her intellectual and comic powers. As much a celebration of America's potential as a condemnation of our failures, some will call it a witch hunt—to which West would reply, "So be it. I'm a witch and I'm hunting you."
The Witches Are Coming Reviews
This was goddamn incredible - a fantastic, funny, insightful clapback of a book. I sometimes incorporate my favorite quotes from a work in a review, but if I did that with The Witches Are Coming, I'd be copying and pasting the whole book. This was my first read from Lindy West, and I was astounded at how much I love her writing. She discusses serious issues here, the most pressing and infuriating issues of our moment, but couches them in brilliant and funny entryways to make them accessible and inarguable to anyone. If your politics are even 20% similar to West, you will be snapping along so hard your fingers will fall off.
She discusses how America is intensely allergic to acknowledging when things are wrong through the story of Grumpy Cat's real name or Chip and Joanna Gaines's religious affiliation. She discusses the farcicality of "witch hunts" and shaming "identity politics" by talking about a gear-swapping Facebook group her husband is a part of (trust me, it makes sense when you read it). She discusses online harassment, portrayals of women and abortion in media, the privilege of wellness culture, and so much more.
But most importantly, just when you start to get a bit disillusioned with American society, she reminds you that the world is a beautiful place worth saving, that this country is ours and that your beliefs should not be shaken by all the people trying to shake them. You should hold firm in your activism and give a big ol "fuck you" to anyone who laughs at you, paints you as hysterical/angry/unproductive, tries to "trigger" you, harasses you, or tries to turn you standing up for what is right into the punchline of a joke.
Thank you for writing this kickass book, Lindy West - when it comes out, I am going to make all my friends and family read it. (Thanks to NetGalley and Hatchette for giving me the privilege of reading this ARC.)
“This is a witch hunt. We’re witches, and we’re hunting you.”
God, I missed Lindy West. I mean, she didn’t go anywhere and I read Shrill only two months ago and I still haven’t seen the show and she’s written pieces for a dozen or so other media outlets, but I still miiiiiiissed her!
While Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman was a lot of West’s own personal life, growth and realizations, The Witches Are Coming examines societal shifts more holistically and offers a ruthlessly necessary cultural critique. If her previous book was in part a crash course on the history of the internet up through the first half of 2016, we’re now taken on a trip through many generation-defining events that have taken place over the past three and a half years. The election of Donald Trump, Brexit, the #MeToo movement—these all have happened in the relatively short but also inexplicably long period since. In addressing not only these happenings, but the inevitable backlash to the backlash, Lindy West provides a thoughtful and well-reasoned examination of subjects that still are too discomfiting to bring up in some ‘polite company’. And she does it all with the same level of cutting humor that you’d come to expect from her work.
And, guys, it’s really really funny. I was cracking up over even the chapter titles. Come on, Ted Bundy Was Not Charming—Are You High? That’s fucking classic; I want it embroidered on a pillow or something. And she replicates one of my favorite parts of her last book, which was the reflective look at one the idols of her youth, Howard Stern. But instead of Stern this time, she devotes entire chapters to examining the legacies of comedy legends such as Adam Sandler and Joan Rivers. Even some of the chapter titles, like Is Adam Sandler Funny? , would be enough provocation to set off a pack of furious fanboys to defend his honor, but I beg you all to take the time to read what she’s written. These aren’t hit pieces; the conclusions she reaches are nuanced and even the criticisms aren’t really levied at the performer personally, but at the society that shaped as well as consumed them.
Even those who weren’t #blessed with their own chapter received credit where it was due. Ricky Gervais and Louis C.K.’s contributions to comedy aren’t merely tossed aside by a changing world, but they also aren’t immune to being challenged by it. One of the funniest chapters features Gwyneth Paltrow in all her Goopiness and it’s not mocking or glowing in the way we’ve come to expect towards her, but instead is refreshingly giddy and candid. West balances comic whimsy and difficult truths with the same level of deftness as Mary Poppins, disguising the bitterness of medicine with a spoonful of sugar. It really does make it all easier to swallow.
Most chapters feature a story from West’s own life, either a hilarious anecdote or a moment of frustration, that is used as a segue into a topic of importance for her. A few are really Trojan Horses that don’t reveal their true nature until further into the piece, but some are upfront about the content for good reason. In What Is an Abortion, Anyway? she discusses not just her own real abortion, but her fictional one as well. Her insistence to include Shrill’s main character, Annie’s, abortion in the pilot was the same determination that birthed the #ShoutYourAbortion movement online. While not as satirical as the other essays, it’s just as sharp and truly beneficial to anyone who considers themselves pro-choice.
Real talk, I was so giggly while reading this. My Kindle copy is so full of highlighted passages that if I had done the same thing to a physical copy it would be like 65% highlighter. Her self-awareness makes her so endearing and her biting wit is funny as hell—I just thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this book. The end left me optimistic and with a sense of pending accomplishment, which, yeah, is probably unearned at this stage, but with a clear path forward. I don’t know what else to say; Lindy West left me feeling happy and gave me some hope.
*Thanks to Hachette Books & Netgalley for an advance copy!
"Yes, we are witches, and we're hunting you."
What an impressive and readable collection of essays. Lindy West, the author of Shrill, has returned and she's ready to share some facts and clapbacks.
I have to be honest, these essays were at times hard to read--not necessarily due to the author, but due to the wounds that they reopened for me. Being a woman in today's world isn't easy, and we're still fighting to be heard. Being a woman in America...yeah, it's rough, especially given the current political leader. These essays have receipts. They have anecdotes. And they'll throw you into each and every one of the political turmoils of the now.
The title The Witches Are Coming is derived from West's analysis of Trump's frequent use of the phrase "witch hunt." While Trump is determined to use it as a label that is pro-men, West is quick to remind us that witches were always women who spoke out and had agency, and the phrase "witch hunt" has historical roots in female oppression...not the other way around. So for West, yes, the "witches" are coming. And it's time for a reckoning and reclaiming of the term.
Also, a side note: the chapter on Adam Sandler is inspiring. I, too, hate Adam Sandler for what he represents. West gets it. You tell 'em, girl.
Thank you to Hachette for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I agree with much of what Lindy West says in her new book, but I can't shake the feeling I had when I read her first book. That feeling is of confusion - why aren't I liking this book better when I agree with a lot of what is being said? In no way am I trying to be judgmental or say the tone of this book is wrong - it's just not my particular style.
There were some essays I liked more than others (I also share being mystified by Adam Sandler's popularity), I laughed out loud during the Goop one (how ridiculous) and the one on Women and how from a young age we are fed though pop culture the way girls behave/act/look and the same for boys.
I appreciate how this book opened up my eyes to look at things differently. Certain ways of thinking are just so engrained that it's hard to re-learn what you just absorbed as a child. What I also think is unfortunate is that the part of our population that would benefit greatly from reading this - won't, and the people who agree already share the same opinion and don't really have anywhere to go from here. I guess that's the real problem with our polarized society. We're all just talking (or screaming) into the void and there is no real conversation in the middle.
Review Date: 11/17/19
Publication Date: 11/05/19
I haven’t watched the tv show Shrill but I remember reading a little of the book, but I never finished it because it was a time when I used to abandon books midway a lot. But I also remember that I found it very interesting and powerful. So when I saw this book on my Libro.fm list for November, I knew I had to pick it up immediately and I’m so glad I didn’t put it off.
As I always like to do, I listened and read this book simultaneously and while it’s a very wonderful book to read, the author’s narration makes it excellent. She is fiery and passionate and brings out all the emotions that she may have felt while writing the book into her narrative voice, and it makes for a very immersive listening experience. Right alongside her, I felt angry and disappointed, I laughed out and I felt motivated. Any book that evokes such strong feelings in us deserves a read.
This book is also extremely quotable. I just kept highlighting paragraphs upon paragraphs in my kindle, and I think I could have done that to the whole book. The book is not a single coherent story, it’s more like a collection of essays with each chapter dealing with a different topic that the author deeply resonates with. She is a pro-choice, body positive, feminist writer and is completely unapologetic about her opinions and I admire her so much for it. I particularly loved reading her thoughts on the #MeToo movement, abortion rights, youth activism and women’s anger.
But what makes this book special is her no holds barred style of writing. That would probably be considered a good attitude for a man but not a woman, and the author talks extensively about all the ways in which this hypocrisy persists - where men are assumed to be the leaders and risk takers and capable, whereas women have to work doubly hard to prove themselves to be on par while also fighting off impossible expectations of niceness and likability. And whatever topic she is talking about, it’s inevitable that the discussion turns to the current president and she is fearless in her criticism of his policies, as well as the overall destructive platform of the Republicans and their right wing cohorts. And she is also highly critical of the “center” or “apolitical” people as if choosing not to be political in the current climate is in itself not a highly privileged political stance.
I could probably write a lot more in my review, but I want to end it right here and ask you to pick this up. Read it, listen to it, it’s your choice but do consume it. It may not talk about things we don’t already know, but sometimes it’s good to get a reminder - especially from someone who hits the nail on the head so articulately and without holding herself back. And as a fat woman, I admire the author even more for sticking up for her principles in the face of unimaginable trolling and threats. It’s an extremely well written and narrated book and I highly recommend it.