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Picks and Pans Main: Books

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Cinderella Ate My Daughter

Peggy Orenstein |


People PICK


Orenstein (Waiting for Daisy) is such a breezy, funny writer, it’s easy to forget she’s an important thinker too. Here, she takes on the mixed messages of “girlie-girl culture”-the land of princesses varnished over with the promise of “girl power”-that seem to have hijacked our daughters’ brains. But Orenstein’s no pontificator. So, for example, she concludes that princess fixations may not be all about looking pretty and being rescued: Since very little girls don’t know gender is immutable, the princess obsession feeds into their desire to prove that they’ll stay girls. And when she visits a beauty pageant for 5-year-olds, instead of sneering, she offers up a nuanced examination of class. If Cinderella is an indictment of anything, it’s consumerism: It’s hilarious, and scary, what marketers will do to reach into our pockets. Something to think about the next time you find yourself opening your wallet as your 4-year-old screams for a Bling Bling Barbie.

J.D. Salinger

by Kenneth Slawenski |



Almost as famous for his reclusiveness as for his writing, the author of The Catcher in the Rye wasn’t much for self-disclosure. A year after his death, this well-researched biography helps shed light, and it’s not always pretty. Slawenski describes a man convinced of his superiority-to the editors who “butchered” his work, to the fans who stalked his rural home. Like his professional relationships, his love life was tumultuous. He dated Charlie Chaplin’s future wife Oona before marrying three times and having two children. By the time he died at 91, Salinger’s son described his father as having been “in the world but not of it.” J.D. Salinger is an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of the man, his demons and the literary legacy that was his most unselfish gift.