AMERICAN-SAVAGEReviewed by Jax Kepple

Dan Savage expertly switched off between hilarious (maybe I’m easily amused but the Introduction had me laughing hysterically) and the serious (his sorrow at the loss of his religious identity) in his latest collection of essays in American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics. Each essay is a different chapter, annotated with amusing asides and more support for that particular topic. This was my first taste of Savage’s writing in bulk – I had previously read some of his stand-alone articles – and felt that his writing was sharp, well-researched and contrite, when it needed to be.

This latest collection of essays focus mainly on equal rights for LGBT individuals, but Obamacare and gun violence are also tackled. He explains the reasoning behind starting up his charity, It Gets Better and how he believes that it’s never OK to cheat…except when it is. All these topics are backed up by studies and academic sources, as well as excepts from other writers who share his view and readers who submit questions to his Savage Love syndicated column. The ability to present his views and cross-reference them to real life situations and examples helped to flesh out some of the lighter topics (like Halloween is the Gay Pride Parade for straight people) and provide concrete reasoning for some of the more controversial ones (whether to believe it when men say they are bisexual, cursing the Bible in front of high school students). Savage is not afraid to admit his mistakes either.

Two essays stood out as the strongest of the pretty-great pack: Extended Stay, the heartbreaking, tear-inducing story about his mother’s death and the politics and religious effects of physician-assisted suicide and Rick and Me, the hilarious back story to Savage’s major dislike of Rick Santorum. There was also a one-act play featuring Jesus and the NOM president, with whom Savage had debated in the famous Dinner Table Debate that made me cry-laugh.

This book is definitely not for everyone. But that perfect liberal reader will agree with Savage’s points and laugh at his jokes. Even a very conservative reader would enjoy hate-reading this and will be seething at certain parts. I do believe a sort of common-sense aspect of Savage’s points are universal but, as he expertly fleshes out, some people cannot see past their ignorance. One hopes Savage’s part, especially through It Gets Better, helps to rectify this.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Jax is in an accountant at a hedge fund. She resides in NYC with her husband.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Dutton Adult. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.