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70 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I am a lover of fiction. Oh, sure, I read a lot of non-fiction -- news, blogs, internet columns -- but when I think of reading for pleasure,it is always fiction. So I bought Dan Savage's book out of impulse. I like his columns, SLOG, his podcasts, his work on behalf of gay kids and my gay friends -- so why not give him a little paid thank you for all of the free stuff I've gotten from him over the years?

So the book arrived on my Kindle app and I thought I'd read one essay -- like maybe one a day? Who knew I'd gobble it down like -- well -- my favorite novels? Savage is an amazing writer -- precise in his thought process, graceful in his expression, amusing, humane, and frequently (as Mike Huckabee says) "rude, vile, and angry." The victims of his needle wit, of course, absolutely deserve it, having attacked vilely and viciously his life, his family, his friends, and those in this world who just want to be allowed to love as their beings demand. Dan's work is sometimes angry, but more often he shows humor, love and a keen understanding of human nature.

So I recommend this book to those who appreciate good writing as well as to those who enjoy insight into other people's lives (including their sex lives!), or who just appreciate seeing the bigots of this world skewered as they well deserve with a measured wit and deadly logic.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I'm a fan. Let's just put that out there. Never miss a podcast, and I admire the guy greatly. But, the book didn't offer anything to a regular Savage consumer that we don't get every time we tune in. This is a greatest hits album meant to cash in on the high profile of the recent years. As I was reading it, I was thinking that it would be great for those who have experienced Savage at a distance. Those of us who have been viewing close up for a while aren't going to find anything new here. Honestly, I long for something that matches the personal brilliance of the early books, "The Kid" and "The Commitment." When Dan is talking about his life and making it personal, the authenticity is inspiring. He does self-deprecation so well (thank you, Catholic upbringing). You see shades of that in this book when he talks about his mother's death and in other chapters with glimpses into his family life and relationship. But, that great stuff gets drowned in the political discourse in this book. And while I am always in Dan's corner when he talks politics, I guess I look for something more when he's writing a book. That's what makes this just a "good" for me and not something that I'll be raving about to others. The brand of "Dan Savage" is driving the bus right now, and hey, who can blame him? I miss the authentic writer, though. It's what the core is made of, and I bet it will return later when the heat dies down.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I'm a Dan Savage geek. I was prepared to like Dan's new book. I had no idea that I would love it, highlight it, bookmark it, rave about it. I had no idea that Dan could write so eloquently, and from the heart. Dan's personal stories are moving, especially when he writes about his mother's death, his husband, or his son. Each time he speaks from his heart with a story from his own life, it is to illustrate or lead us to an important point.

American Savage is a book about sex, love, and marriage in our contemporary culture and how politics, religion, and sexuality get mixed together -- and badly mixed up. I recommend it to everyone, straight or gay, who cares about how confused our culture is about sexuality and religion and politics. Please read this book and share it with people in your life who agree with you -- and those who don't.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
(Says the straight 40 something woman)

If you're a fan of Savage Love, this book is a no-brainer. It encompasses Dan's wit and logic (and colorful turn of phrase) in a manner that makes you feel like you're sitting in a bar with him discussing life. It's not just about "Teh Gay", it's also about sex education and strengthening the family (yes, every family, even "opposite sex" ones). There's a heartbreaking chapter on the death of his mother, and his proudest moments as a parent, and his strong love of his spouse. And frankly, there is a very emotional chapter on his struggle with leaving his Catholicism behind.....as an ex-Catholic, I can understand the ambiguity.

Thank you Dan, you've created a topical tome on life in America in the 21st Century. You've been on the front lines of the culture wars for a few years now, and should e proud of your accomplishments and voice.

Buy the book if you enjoy reading about the culture wars. Don't buy it if you are a Biblical literalist. I guarantee you will NOT like it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I have encountered Dan Savage twice on Bill Maher's HBO show--a great wit with a take-no-prisoners approach to bursting the bubbles of hysterical right wing-nuts! This collection of essays--likely some of his columns--is a very forthright and honest exploration of all kinds of things, not just sexual. My favorite, maybe, is the chapter on the accusation that Pres. Obama is a socialist, and then Dan gets into showing us how following the gospel instructions on feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and caring for the poor and aged...that's real socialism, as is Medicare, gov't subsidized...anything, etc. Get it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I am a fan of Dan Savage's column and other books, so I really enjoyed this one. The chapter about his mother's death was very touching. Most of the topics in this book were covered at least partially in The Stranger Newspaper, so there weren't a lot of surprises for this reader. However I really like Dan's style so I found it worth the price. If you've read other works by Dan, or seen him on TV, you already know if you'll like or hate this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I love Dan Savage and have been reading his column for years. This book would be a terrific introduction for people who are new to his ideas, but is less interesting for people who already familiar with his work because it seems to rehash a lot of what I've already read or heard from him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I'm working my way through Dan Savage's latest book but not enjoying it. I love his uncensored views on sex, morality and politics but this book feels like a "contractual obligation album." There is no overarching message, just a collection of essays on the same subjects he's always on about.

He needs to realize being gay isn't the most interesting thing about him.

I've been reading his column -- off and on -- since 1991 and I have all his previous books. Each of them was about something. This one isn't.

I decided to check into his podcast. Ciminy I see he's been doing it since 2006 and there are 416 of them now. I listened to the first ten and the last five or six, and they're all about the same things too. How long can he ride the same pony?

I'd love to see him branch out, expand his boundaries, stretch himself a bit. That's what books are for.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics by Dan Savage

“American Savage" is a refreshingly irreverent and personal take on hot-button issues. Popular sex-columnist, social provocateur and gay-rights activist, Dan Savage provides the straight-talk on incendiary issues such as: same-sex marriages, gun control, faith, healthcare and other topics with a flair for brutal honesty. This hard-hitting 312-page book includes the following seventeen chapters: 1. At a Loss, 2. It’s Never Okay to Cheat (Except When It Is), 3. Sex Dread, 4. The GGG Spot, 5. The Choicer Challenge, 6. My Son Comes Out, 7. Crazy, Mad, Salacious, 8, Folsom Prism Blues, 9. The Straight Pride Parade, 10. Four Closet Cases, 11. Mistakes Were Made, 12. On Being Different, 13. Extended Stay, 14. Rick and Me, 15. Still Evil. Less Evil. But Still Evil. 16. It’s Happened Again, and 17. Bigot Christmas.

Positives:
1. A fun, irreverent, page-turner of a book. Savage does not hold anything back except when he talks about his husband, which in many respects is no different than any other marriage, and that’s the point.
2. Great hot-button topics. Refreshingly honest, engaging and humorous.
3. Savage shares his Catholic upbringing. Interest look at an interesting life.
4. This book is full of great quotes that not only encompass sound logic but a lot of passion as well. “The Church has backed itself into a familiar corner. One day the Church will have to admit that it made a mistake. And one day the Church will have to admit that scores of popes, hundreds of theologians, and countless princes of the Church were wrong. Wrong about sex. Wrong about birth control. Wrong about masturbation. Wrong about pleasure. Wrong about homosexuality. One day the Church will have to admit that it got human sexuality wrong, just as it got the movement of the planets wrong.” You can just feel the passion behind his words and he’s right too.
5. Interesting sex advice. Frank talk on the meaning of happier relationships. “An understanding that real, imperfect relationships are more important than romantic, idealized, and ultimately impractical notions about lifelong fidelity.”
6. Insightful criticism of sex education in America. “And the one topic his students are most curious about—the topic his class seems to circle back to, again and again—is sexual pleasure. What you do with sexual desire and how you act on it.”
7. Gay rights from a prominent gay rights activist. “Arguing that gay people shouldn’t complain about discrimination because we can “choose to be straight” is like arguing that Jewish people shouldn’t complain about anti-Semitism because they can “choose to be baptized.” Just a great quote.
8. In telling his story and backed by social science he debunks many misconceptions about gay couples raising children. A hilarious exchange.
9. Exposes fundamentalist hypocrisy. Many examples provided including salacious details.
10. Humorous discussion on the Halloween straight pride parade. “What’s wrong with having a night where we can say ‘This is my body, and I’m not ashamed of it, or of using it to express my sexuality.’”
11. Clarifies concepts. “Sexual orientation is one thing; sexual identity—real, perceived, or asserted—is another.” Savage is also not afraid to show when he was wrong as was the case on bisexuality.
12. The inspiration and reason for the It Gets Better Project.
13. A heartfelt look at dying with dignity. “The widow who planned to vote for the Death with Dignity Act was given the last word: ‘You don’t know how you’re going to feel at the end of your life,’ she said. ‘I want to have choices available to me.’ Exactly.’”
14. A great quote that captures how I feel about religious opposition. “The proper response to religious opposition to choice or love or death can be reduced to a series of bumper stickers: Don’t approve of abortion? Don’t have one. Don’t approve of gay marriage? Don’t have one. Don’t approve of physician-assisted suicide? For Christ’s sake, don’t have one. But don’t tell me I can’t have one—each and every one—because it offends your God.”
15. A great chapter on why Rick Santorum is dangerous for America. “Rick Santorum doesn’t believe a right to privacy—or bodily integrity—exists in the US Constitution.”
16. Healthcare. “Oddly enough, the very same Christians who oppose collective, coerced, society-wide action to provide health care to all—health care the way those socialists do it in Vatican City—turn around and argue that we must take collective, coercive action as a nation to prevent women from having abortions—even in cases of rape or incest. A society that allows children to die of toothaches isn’t an affront to God, but one that allows women to terminate an unplanned pregnancy is. We can, they argue, employ the coercive powers of the state to close women’s clinics, arrest doctors who perform abortions, imprison women who obtain abortions. Using the coercive powers of the state to force a rape victim to carry her rapist’s baby to term? That’s the right thing to do, Jesus-wise. Using the coercive powers of the state to collect taxes so that the women you’re forcing to give birth to their rapists’ babies can get prenatal care? That’s an outrage, Jesus-wise.”
17. Gun control. “There’s a difference, however, between exploiting a tragedy and learning from it.”
18. In the final chapter of the book, Savage recounts his hilarious and yet serious dinner encounter with Brian Brown, the head of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) that alone may is worthy of the price of the book.
19. He also recounts the newsworthy school of journalism conference.
20. Comprehensive notes.

Negatives:
1. It talks all kinds to spread the word of reason and for that I am thankful for the likes of Dan Savage. However, the one-act play makes it difficult to recommend to those on the fence or on the Christian side of the ledger.
2. Not for the prudish. Savage is honest to a fault.
3. Those who are familiar with Savage’s work will not find anything new.
4. Savage makes great book recommendations throughout the book but it’s always wise to have a formal bibliography for easy reference.
5. Some missed opportunities on gun control. I align with Savage’s politics I thought he missed an opportunity to be more persuasive on gun control. Showing how other progressive countries handle this issue better than we do would have been more persuasive.

In summary, I love books that provide intelligent rants and Savage doesn’t disappoint. It takes all types to spread the word of wisdom and Savage provides the in-your face variety. It’s refreshingly honest while being persuasive and engaging. However, the one-act play is offensive to Christians and keeps me from being able to recommend without reservations. For the rest of us, enjoyed it immensely. Get it!

Further recommendations: “It Gets Better” by the same author, “Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us” and “Why is the Peni$ Shaped Like That” by Jesse Bering, “Sex at Dawn” by Christopher Ryan, “Atheists Can’t Be Republicans: If Facts and Evidence Matter” by CJ Werleman, “Nonbeliever Nation” by David Niose, “Delusions of Gender” by Cordelia Fine, “Birth Control, Insurance Coverage, & the Religious Right” by A.F. Alexander, “Moral Combat” by Sikivu Hutchinson, “Republican Gomorrah” by Max Blumenthal, “American Fascists” by Chris Hedges, “Society Without God” by Phil Zuckerman, and “Why are you Atheists so Angry?” by Greta Christina.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of Dan Savage's weekly sex advice column, "Savage Love," for as long as I can remember. Well not literally, but for at least 10-15 years. I don't always agree with the advice but I love reading it. It's nice to know that there is such a shockingly wide array of human sexual experiences out there, and that everybody basically wants confirmation that happiness is possible, even for them. It all makes me feel so, well, normal. But more than that, I appreciate that there's an advice column that runs in newspapers all over North America that is so fiercely pro-LGBTQ, and that shows people that being gay is, well, pretty normal too.

American Savage is a little like "Savage Love" in that I don't always agree with Dan Savage's conclusions (his views on infidelity are a little challenging for me) but I very much enjoy reading them.

I particularly liked that he didn't presume his audience would know everything about him or get all his references, so he found ways throughout the book to explain the details without sounding pedantic or condescending.

And my favourite part of the book was when he talked about creating the It Gets Better project to help LGBTQ youth see hope for their futures. "You have got to give 'em hope," he says, quoting Harvey Milk. While the subject of "what to do about teen bullying" seems to be a favourite one these days, particularly among adults with task forces and committees, I love that Dan Savage went out and did something, and it was something hopeful. You've probably seen a thousand of those "It Gets Better" videos on YouTube, but if you'd like to see one of my all-time favourite ones, visit my blog.

Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.
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