Love her or loathe her, people feel the need to discuss presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's life (her accessories, her hair, her lipstick, her husband, her tear ducts) with fervor, dedication, and, often, a great deal of prejudice. In the new anthology Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary, thirty women writers muse on everything from whether Clinton is a cat or a dog person, why she wears the clothes she does, and why she married the man she did. (Oddly, or, perhaps, predictably, they devote zero time to discussing her stance on any issues.) What the critics had to say about the book, after the jump.
Imagine if men wrote a book about Clinton containing this kind of minutiae — the same women would turn and savage them for trivializing her....Isn't the question: is she any good? Or, how will she lead the country? No one in this collection seriously analyzes her position on Iraq, her shift in health-care policy, her record as a senator, her promise of change, the likelihood that she can get elected or whether she has the right credentials. It is jarring—and worrying....The narcissism [of the writers] is overwhelming.
— Julia Baird, Newsweek
Many hard-line feminists can't forgive her for staying married to Bill Clinton in the wake of Monica-gate (as though this were anybody's business but the Clintons' own), writing with the sort of vehemence more usually associated with Limbaugh-like members of the "vast right-wing conspiracy." This antipathy toward Mrs. Clinton is very much in evidence in this book. The novelist Lionel Shriver, for one, asserts that "accident, luck, and good or bad taste in men, depending on your perspective" have combined to make Mrs. Clinton "the first truly viable female candidate for the U.S. presidency"; she is reluctant to give Hillary any credit (or blame) for her work as a lawyer and senator. The story of Hillary Clinton, Ms. Shriver declares, "is antifeminist: former first lady is elected on her husband's coattails" — never mind that her own argument — that if Hillary becomes president she will simply be "a titular head of state" with her husband secretly running things from behind the scenes — seems remarkably antifeminist in itself.
— Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
In short, a lot of people hate Hillary. There are right-wing nut jobs, antiwar activists, enemies of Bill who think she is his clone, friends of Bill who think she brought him down, fashionistas offended by her sensible suits, and fashionistas offended by the only flash of cleavage she ever revealed on the Senate floor. But perhaps the most agonized Hillary haters are middle-aged, middle-class white feminists whose hatred simmers in a stew of ambivalence, liberally seasoned with desire, frustration, and betrayal. "Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary" could serve as a cookbook for that stew, though its contributors might bristle at the domestic metaphor.
— Rebecca Steinitz, Boston Globe
[Hillary] is different from the smart, accomplished writers who make up the provocative, glittering mosaic that is Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary, and she is different from every man who is running or has ever run for President: no one has been dissected the way she's been, no one has been subjected to relentless and catty condemnation of his hair, his wardrobe, his popcorn-eating habits in college, his cooking, his cookie recipes, his invented sexual proclivities, or his marriage — even the faithless Giuliani or McCain, with the trophy wife for whom he ditched his previous wife — the way Hillary has been.
— Elizabeth Benedict, Huffington Post
So now there is a book called "Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflection by Women Writers," in which women who write consider Hillary Clinton's womanliness, as opposed to, say, her voting record on tax cuts. Her womanness is of vital importance, I guess, because a book publisher agreed to pay someone money to edit an anthology in which female writers write about womanitude... But I'm thinking, has a male writer ever had the courage to discuss any of the male candidates in terms of their manliness? I think not... Can a man ever be elected president? Well, yes, every time. But is that really the point?
— Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chornicle
This [book] is both an attribute and a detriment [to Hillary's character]. Whether it is a testament to the writers themselves or to Morrison's editing, the contributors share a certain elegance in tone...To state it plainly, the portraits are not flattering. Most essays flow into each other with the common threads of Hillary's pantsuits and her husband's coattails, her health care missteps, her cold demeanor and the fact that most are still surprised she caught a guy like Bill in law school. The 30 ways of looking sometimes feel like only a dozen.
— Marisa Rindone, Forbes