American Savage
On the heels of his Emmy-winning It Gets Better campaign, columnist and provocateur Dan Savage weighs in on such diverse issues as healthcare, gun control, and marriage equality with characteristic straight talk and humor. Dan Savage has always had a loyal audience, thanks to his syndicated sex-advice column “Savage Love,” but since the incredible global success of his It Gets Better project—his book of the same name was a New York Times bestseller—his profile has skyrocketed. In addition, he’s written for The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Onion, GQ, The Guardian, Salon.com, and countless other widely read publications. Savage is recognized as someone whose opinions about our culture, politics, and society should not only be listened to but taken seriously. Now, in American Savage, he writes on topics ranging from marriage, parenting, and the gay agenda to the Catholic Church, sex education, and the obesity epidemic.

American Savage Details

TitleAmerican Savage
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 28th, 2013
PublisherDutton Adult
ISBN-139780525954101
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Politics, Writing, Essays, Autobiography, Memoir, LGBT, Humor

American Savage Review

  • Shawn
    January 1, 1970
    On the surface I am probably the last person you'd expect to pick up the audio book "American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics" written and read by Dan Savage yet alone give it a four star rating. But I did and I am. Lets just get it out there...Dan Savage is an outspoken democrat, sex advice columnist and advocate for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights. While I hate prejudice, bigotry and intolerance of all types, I am a straight conservati On the surface I am probably the last person you'd expect to pick up the audio book "American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics" written and read by Dan Savage yet alone give it a four star rating. But I did and I am. Lets just get it out there...Dan Savage is an outspoken democrat, sex advice columnist and advocate for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights. While I hate prejudice, bigotry and intolerance of all types, I am a straight conservative Republican female who lives in the Bible belt. As I just said, on the surface it looks like I am not the target audience for this book, but maybe I. Fans of Dan Savage already know his views and opinions and people like me may not.I picked up the audio book because the title of the book intrigued me and I listened to it because I was interested to find out what I didn't know. I also agree with Aristotle's statement that "it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." When I got this audio book, I was prepared to be upset and even outraged at some parts, and for the most part I wasn't. This isn't to say that Dan refrains from talking about controversial things, he does. But Dan and his writings opened up my world to facts and information (by using stories, logic and scientific studies from peer reviewed journals) about the LGBT community and their fight for basic human rights that I may not have come across otherwise. I think the reason I was able to listen and absorb so much of this audio book was Dan's tone. For the most part the tone of the audio book was calm and professional. In this book Dan covers a lot of issues. In the first part of the book, Dan, who was raised Catholic, talks about his mixed emotions when it comes to the Catholic church and the church's stand against homosexuality and any sexual act that is not intended to create a baby. I grew up Catholic too and Dan's felt that discussion was balanced and non judgmental and done with so much class that I was impressed. Dan goes on to talk about the United States' issue with teen pregnancy (the US has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world). He presents some great peer reviewed (scientific) studies that showed that counties that only teach teenagers abstinence only education have higher rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections than areas that teach a more complete sexual education that includes both birth control and abstinence. Dan had some great points and I was intrigued enough to go online to find and read the studies he mentioned. I even sent the links and the facts to some of my friends, here is an article from Science Daily, if you are interested. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/...In the book Dan also talks about his sex advice column and his life. He talks about his husband and the child they adopted together. He talks about his mom and when his mom dies, I cry with him. Dan is a great story teller and I really enjoy hearing about his life. At this point I like him, he is a bit crude and there are times when he is purposely trying to shock people, but it's not too offensive and I am still listening and laughing at what I assume to be the right spots. I like his stand on sex education and from reading his book there is not a doubt in my mind that his other books, his charity "it gets better" and his advice column have saved lives - and probably a lot of them.http://www.itgetsbetter.org/When Dan talks about gay marriage, gay adoption and gay rights, the tone of his writing sometimes changes. He is angry at points. But I get that too, he's talking about prejudice and fighting against those who are trying to deny people basic human rights, so I let the anger go and listen to his words. What is great about this section, is the information Dan gives and the stories he tells. I have always said one of the best ways to stop prejudice is to get to know the facts and the people...and Dan does this...wonderfully. In this section Dan gives us an insight into Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities and discusses and refutes a lot of the false information out there about LGBT people. It's a well balanced discussion, I enjoy listening to it and I learn a thing or two.Dan also talks about how difficult it is for many LGBT youth. Dan talks about the It Gets Better Project he started with his husband. While I was already aware of this project, once again I am online watching the videos and reading the website.At this part of the book I noted "If you are not a Dan Savage fan before picking this up, listen to the audio version of the book, don't read it." I said this because, while Dan's words are crude at times, Dan's tone is more mature and calm. People are more likely to listen when someone isn't ranting or nasty and here I was hoping that if people heard the tone (instead of just reading the words), maybe the uninitiated, undecided or uninformed person would learn something - something that could change their mind...something that could lead to real change in the lives of LGBT people.At this point I am raving about this book. Rating it 5 stars, recommending it to friends, saying I am a Dan Savage fan. Then Dan starts talking about Rick Santorum. Hate, venom and just pure nastiness radiates off the page. I google Rick and I totally get why Dan does not like him. But the depth of Dan's hate, how over the top crude the discussion is... and the amount of time it takes in the book starts to get on my nerves. The maturity I complemented Dan on before this is gone, there are no facts, no useful stories. I am thankful when this section is over. I'm in the car with another hour until I reach my destination so I keep on listening. Then Dan starts in on health care. It's a rant and I start to notice some misleading information which bothers me....a lot. I reach my destination. I turn off Dan Savage. At this point, I am remembering all of the crude nasty comments throughout the book. I delete my glowing review. I am tried of the negativity, the bitterness, and the nastiness. The message and the hope for change, from this book anyway, is gone. A few days later I start listening to the audio book again, and remember why I like Dan and his work. As an educator I hear the false information and see the prejudices against LGBT youth. I worry about these kids and young adults and I want the hate and misinformation to stop. Dan is a wonderful writer and is very well informed about these issues. This audio book could make a real difference in the world if more people would just listen to it. My fear is that the parts of this book that are crude (especially the discussion about Santorum) and angry may turn off some people. Covering the democrat agenda may turn off more. I would love to see a shorter version of the book without these parts. With that said, I would love to also have an ebook version of this book so I could remember and re-quote some of the things Dan said. Very well done Dan. Thank you.
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  • Adam
    January 1, 1970
    Dan Savage saved my life.Until I was seventeen years old, the only openly gay people I knew of beyond fictitious characters in the books I read were stereotypical TV queens: Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Reilly, Alan Sues...all of them on reruns. And while I relished those short 22 minutes I spent watching them wisecrack with other game-show panelists and skit-show performers--after all, any gay role models were better than no gay role model--they existed in a time and place I didn't. They were fro Dan Savage saved my life.Until I was seventeen years old, the only openly gay people I knew of beyond fictitious characters in the books I read were stereotypical TV queens: Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Reilly, Alan Sues...all of them on reruns. And while I relished those short 22 minutes I spent watching them wisecrack with other game-show panelists and skit-show performers--after all, any gay role models were better than no gay role model--they existed in a time and place I didn't. They were from Hollywood in the 1970s, where they were protected from the 99% of the country that was comfortable laughing with them--or at them--but not living down the street from people like them. There, in the glitzy sound studios and down the gated boulevards, they could wear their strange clothes, speak in sly innuendo, and be out with a wink-wink if not an overt statement to that effect without fear of repercussion; they wore their sexual orientations on their sleeves. For most of my young life I didn't know much about being gay, especially growing up in small-town Wisconsin--there was no Facebook, no YouTube, no LOGO or Glee or It Gets Better--but I did know one thing: I wasn't like them.*Unfortunately for me, that meant I had no guide for how I was supposed to live my life. If every gay person I knew of was a flamboyant, limp-wristed, lispy master of puns--even on TV shows from decades ago--and I wasn't any of those things, how should I have acted? What should I wear? Did I have to like Madonna? What exactly did a gay person do with their life if they weren't destined for Los Angeles? What I was looking for was confirmation--from anyone, anywhere--that I could still grow up to be a normal person and live a normal life, that I didn't need to memorize show tunes, deck myself out in blazing fabrics, or haunt disgusting gay bars for companionship. I wasn't the first gay kid to grow up in my small town, I knew that, but the gay kids who came before me did what every small-town gay kid does: they graduated and got the hell out of there, hopefully to somewhere nicer. And once they were gone, they stayed gone. That was great for them, but that left me--and kids like me--growing up without someone there to tell us it would be okay, that there was hope. When you're stuck somewhere you don't belong without any sense of hope, unable to be yourself and with no guidance or support from those around you, you tend to ease the pain in any way you can find. A lucky few are able to channel their anguish and pain into positive endeavors: they find refuge in art, writing, music, community service. But for others, the only refuge is self-destructive: they drink, smoke, or do drugs; they sleep around; they become sullen, withdrawn, and depressed. I found solace and comfort in food. Compared to the other options, I suppose it was the best possible crutch--after all, no one crashes their car into a tree because they've eaten too many Big Macs that night, and to my knowledge no one's ever contracted an STD through Diet Coke and Twinkies--but looking back, all that eating had an affect beyond my diet. Finally, I looked on the outside the way I felt on the inside--disgusting, strange, unlovable--as though I were using my physical appearance as a fortress against ever having to deal with who I was. After all, it doesn't matter what your sexual orientation is if no one will ever find you attractive anyway. The more I ate, the more weight I gained, and the more I gained the worse I felt about how I looked...which meant I had to eat even more to feel better about myself, even momentarily. It was a sick cycle, and I was in the middle of it.The end of high school alleviated the pain somewhat--I began coming out to people, first to friends and eventually my parents--but I still couldn't resolve my own issues, and the eating continued. Gay marriage had become legal in Massachusetts a week before I'd graduated from high school, and there were finally more positive portrayals of gay men and women in popular culture--as well as even more stereotypical ones, especially Queer Eye for the Straight Guy--but none of them were the kind I was looking for: a gay person who lived in a boring house in a boring city and worked at a boring job while dealing with the same boring problems every other adults has to deal with. No clubs, no parades, no snark, no fashion emergencies...just, boring.And then, one summer, I found myself opening an Amazon package with two books written by the same man: The Kid and The Commitment, both by Dan Savage. I'd been a fan of Savage since I was 17 and found my first copy of The Onion. Savage, who'd grown up in Chicago and lived in Seattle at the time, dispensed no-holds-barred sex advice to anyone who wrote in--straight, gay, bi, pan, asexual, trans; single, engaged, married, divorced; teenager, college student, middle-aged, retired--and about any topic, much of which couldn't be printed in any other newspaper. I'd always enjoyed his advice, his sense of humor, his love of common sense and reason over sentimentality and canned responses...but until his two books arrived, I'd never thought of him as anything other than another far-flung gay man whose life had little to offer my own.Then I read The Kid. On a porch. In one sitting. When I finished the sun was beginning to set, so I moved indoors and read The Commitment, again in one sitting. By the time I finished that book, it was already midnight--or close to it--and I was flabbergasted. I'd spent the last 5 to 10 years of my life looking for this exact thing--the story of a gay man who, despite his ridiculous job, lived one of the most boringly normal lives imaginable--and now, suddenly, I'd found it almost by accident. And so I read The Commitment again. Savage's life was filled with outrageous letters from his readers, sure, but otherwise his life was dominated by his long-time boyfriend, their adopted son, tiresome family trips, diaper rash, wedding expos, a meddlesome mother, articles in The New York Times, cake, bars, hypocritical religious figures, buying a home...in other words, boring adult things. It was all there, in black ink on white paper: I could be gay and lead the same kind of life my parents led. Hell, I could be all of that and still have time to have a little weirdness in my life, too. It was the closes thing to a revelation I could've had.My outlook changed in that instant. I began exercising, eating right, looking at myself and the world in a much more positive light. Over the next year I dropped almost 100 pounds; all the foods I'd seen as a refuge when I was younger--potato chips, cookies, soda, candy, donuts--were gone from my diet, to the point where even looking at a donut now makes me slightly nauseous.** They no longer hold any power over me, and the rush I used to get from emptying a bag of chips is now the same rush I get from biking 40 miles across Northern Wisconsin or hiking 20 miles through a national forest. I own a juicer, dehydrator, and food processor, have started growing my own vegetables, and walk to work instead of driving. I don't know where I'd be now--or where I would have ended up--had it not been for those two books, or if I'd ever found the strength to make those life changes on my own. All I know is that I'd probably be unhappy, I'd probably be filled with the same amount of self-loathing that I was filled with in high school, and I'd certainly still be overweight, if not climbing towards morbid obese and maybe even diabetes. But I'm not--I'm better now.And all it took was two books.* * *Savage begins his newest book, American Savage, with a story about his mother, a woman whose fierce independence and outspokenness is clearly alive and well in Savage himself, and his love for her is unfaltering. He writers about coming out to her and her subsequent ultimatum to the extended family, how her Catholic devotion didn't mean strict allegiance, and the ways in which she spoke about prayer to the unpraying. The story isn't new--it appeared in a slightly different form on NPR's This American Life a few years ago--but it's refreshing nonetheless to see Savage write about something so personal, which is where he's always at his best. There are other moments like this throughout the book--his dinner with Brian Brown, which inconveniences his son and angers his husband; being walked out on high school journalism students for speaking honestly about the Bible--and those are the moments in American Savage that are its most memorable and endearing.The rest of American Savage is filled with essays about a slew of different topics, some religious and some political--Obamacare, guns, abstinence education, the pope--and all of them dripping with Savage's usual cynicism, sarcasm, and utter devotion to reason. American Savage is a good book, without a doubt--again, I read it in one sitting--and some of the chapters, particularly those that break down the religious justifications for hating LGBT people--spoiler: they're all bullshit--are worth the price alone. But--and this may just be my personal bias towards his other two books, or perhaps it's because I've now been following Savage's work for over a decade--American Savage feels a little less complete than his other two. Still, a book by Dan Savage, even one filled with diatribes against the status quo, is still better than most of the books out there right now. Hell, it might just save someone's life. *Savage, as I would learn much later, had a similar experience growing up, though his unshakable albatross was a stereotypical gay character on Barney Miller.**Full disclosure: I still eat cookies and candy, but only occasionally, and always in moderation followed by exercise. I'm only human, after all, and being healthy doesn't necessarily mean being miserable.This review was originally published at There Will Be Books Galore.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    I like Dan Savage. While he is by no means perfect, he & I are pretty well aligned on our political & social views and dammit he's also really hilarious. I especially loved/was infuriated by the chapter on Obamacare: Still Evil. Less Evil. But Still Evil. Although the wee Catholic girl in my head was shocked into silence at the blasphemous exchange between Jesus & Peter LaBarbera at the end ("Imagine a ripped, bearded Jake Gyllenhaal in the role of Jesus . . . "), the older, much mor I like Dan Savage. While he is by no means perfect, he & I are pretty well aligned on our political & social views and dammit he's also really hilarious. I especially loved/was infuriated by the chapter on Obamacare: Still Evil. Less Evil. But Still Evil. Although the wee Catholic girl in my head was shocked into silence at the blasphemous exchange between Jesus & Peter LaBarbera at the end ("Imagine a ripped, bearded Jake Gyllenhaal in the role of Jesus . . . "), the older, much more liberal & progressive actual me laughed my ass off. Here's the rub: if the owner of the pizza store my husband works at decided that she could give him health insurance if she raised the price of her pies by $0.14 per pizza - if my husband, who has not had insurance since he was 18 years old, could possibly have coverage for an extra fourteen freaking cents a pizza - then every time I ordered a from her store I'd toss down an extra $10 just to help out the effort. That any business owner in this country could balk at something that simple & fundamental is absolutely mind-boggling to me. Get bent, John Schnatter.Edited to add: Well, apparently he will be offering health insurance to his employees both corporate & non- so I guess, carry on John Schattner?
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  • J. Kent Messum
    January 1, 1970
    Funny, insightful, and honest. 'American Savage' was everything I wanted in a non-fiction book. Packed with hilarious (and sometimes sad) stories about his world of sex and politics, I was surprised by how compelling the book was. The common sense and perspective he adds to the slew of ongoing debates in America was impressive. Most of it was well balanced, but occasionally Savage got catty when writing about his opponents. Although you could say his 'enemies' deserved the slagging (some of them Funny, insightful, and honest. 'American Savage' was everything I wanted in a non-fiction book. Packed with hilarious (and sometimes sad) stories about his world of sex and politics, I was surprised by how compelling the book was. The common sense and perspective he adds to the slew of ongoing debates in America was impressive. Most of it was well balanced, but occasionally Savage got catty when writing about his opponents. Although you could say his 'enemies' deserved the slagging (some of them are downright despicable), and the cattiness added to the charm and laughs, it also worked to undermine him in places. Dan is above and beyond his opposition, there is no need to sink to their level.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    So, as an avid listener of the Savage Lovecast, I found there really wasn't much new in this book. I've heard him rant about almost every single thing he's written about here. Luckily, he is an engaging and articulate speaker/writer, and I could hear his voice in my head as I read the book, which is never a bad thing. But, I feel like I'd heard it all before. Savage has strong opinions on marriage equality, gay rights, human sexuality and its many permutations, gun control, US politics, and pret So, as an avid listener of the Savage Lovecast, I found there really wasn't much new in this book. I've heard him rant about almost every single thing he's written about here. Luckily, he is an engaging and articulate speaker/writer, and I could hear his voice in my head as I read the book, which is never a bad thing. But, I feel like I'd heard it all before. Savage has strong opinions on marriage equality, gay rights, human sexuality and its many permutations, gun control, US politics, and pretty much anything you can think of. Again, he's smart and engaging, and I agree with most of his opinions, so the material here went down pretty easily. However, my only pet peeve with the Lovecast is that, whether in his opening rants or the advice he gives to his callers, he often tends to say things 3 or 6 different times or ways, when he really only needs 1 or 2 different times or ways to make a perfectly valid point. He rambles. And, I'm afraid to say, the same is true with this book. I often found myself skipping passages or pages and coming out the other end with the understanding of a perfectly cogent argument. There are a few places where chapters are short and opinions are expressed concisely, and it was refreshing. But, in the end, I was happy to get through this book and put it down. Back to the library it goes.
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  • Ariel
    January 1, 1970
    I've been a Dan Savage fan since his column was still called HEY, FAGGOT, well before his first book came out. (Aww, remember when he looked like this? Adorbz!)Anyway, Dan's voice has had a significant influence on my writing over the last 15+ years, and it's been inspiring to watch his media star rise and It Gets Better saves lives and his projects have gained such visibility and bla bla bla -- Ok, look, fine: I'll be honest here: I'm mostly in it for the combination of Dan's personal stories a I've been a Dan Savage fan since his column was still called HEY, FAGGOT, well before his first book came out. (Aww, remember when he looked like this? Adorbz!)Anyway, Dan's voice has had a significant influence on my writing over the last 15+ years, and it's been inspiring to watch his media star rise and It Gets Better saves lives and his projects have gained such visibility and bla bla bla -- Ok, look, fine: I'll be honest here: I'm mostly in it for the combination of Dan's personal stories and his relationship advice. Dan is my very favorite bossy asshole, but his sweet stories of his marriage and child-rearing just slay me. His politics are totally inline with most of mine, so that's great... but it's his perspectives on long-term relationships and parenthood that keep me coming back to the Savage Pavlovian rat lever, reading year after year (and oh my god at this point, decade after decade). In American Savage, he mentions that some LGBT activists hate him for being too conservative and heteronormative... which just adds to the joy. The HEY, FAGGOT guy is now nearing 50, happily married for ages, and the father of a teenager?! It DOES get better! It's just been such a treat over these last 15+ to follow his work, his activism, and especially his family.Oh and speaking of family, did anyone else catch the mysterious intrigue hidden in the Afterward? Dan thanks his sister-in-law/copyeditor, saying he'll be nicer to her in the future. Jesus, Dan. What did you do to this poor woman?!Ok fine, fine: I'm a ridiculous Dan Savage fangirl. For those of you who are like me, I encourage you to follow his husband on Instagram, because Dan does not lie: Terry DOES look great in leather.
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  • Brigid
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, full disclosure, I skimmed a few paragraphs of the more heavily political chapters. But the essay chapters, about Dan Savage's personal life? AMAZING. The chapter about his mother made me cry. I thought this was a great read. I loved it. Highly recommended.
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  • Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    Dan Savage's beautiful marriage (pun intended) of wit and utter crassness has always captured my interest, and this book is no exception. Savage devotes the chapters of this volume to pertinent political issues, including the bullying of LGBT youth (of course), marriage equality (duh), and even Death with Dignity measures and PPACA (surprise!). He also writes about perceptions of LGBT people throughout his lifetime, his own (mis)conceptions of bisexuality, and of course, Savage Love advice. I en Dan Savage's beautiful marriage (pun intended) of wit and utter crassness has always captured my interest, and this book is no exception. Savage devotes the chapters of this volume to pertinent political issues, including the bullying of LGBT youth (of course), marriage equality (duh), and even Death with Dignity measures and PPACA (surprise!). He also writes about perceptions of LGBT people throughout his lifetime, his own (mis)conceptions of bisexuality, and of course, Savage Love advice. I enjoyed the multifaceted discussions taking place here; there is something for just about every politically-minded reader, and it's all detailed in Savage's signature style. Some chapters are more brilliant than others. I am especially fond of "The Choicer Challenge," in which Savage takes on the false assumption that being gay is a conscious choice we are somehow all deluding ourselves into making (or not making), through a discussion of Mr. Herman Cain. Cain vocally opposed gay rights during his presidential campaign, and continually asked his opponents to indicate "the science" that proves that homosexuality is not a choice. Savage is coy, and says in this chapter that he isn't going to respond to Cain's request; I was disappointed by this bizarre choice, until I read the footnote: Savage does divulge the scientific research that indicates that homosexuality is not a choice, quietly refuting Cain's cries. This goes on FOR FOUR PAGES. All of the content of this chapter is relegated to one huge-ass footnote. And so, Savage punks his readers into reading the important, "real" chapter, which is essentially a collection of ramblings asking Herman Cain to choose to be gay for a day and "suck my dick" (73). That's some sexy Modernist textual play you got going there, Savage; T.S. Eliot would surely be turned on. Other chapters are not so brilliant. I was a touch disappointed with the last chapter, "Bigot Christmas," in which Savage discusses his infamous dinner debate with Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Well, that is, he sort of discusses it; rather, he discusses everything around it, such as the specific verses in the Old and New Testaments used to discriminate against LGBT people. Relevant, yes, but I was hoping for more on everything the world didn't see that day. Savage touches on what happened after the cameras stopped rolling (mad props to Terry, lol), but it felt buried in his redundant structure. I read an advance copy, so perhaps this is tidied up in the final printing. Whatever. Still good. And, finally, one chapter is rather unsettling for me: "It's Never Okay to Cheat (Except When It Is)." This is one of the Savage Love explorations, and it might just be unsettling for me because it made sense, to a degree: Savage advises people who are sexually dissatisfied with their long-term relationships, but who are still devoted to their significant others, to mindfully cheat in order to meet their needs. Effectively, couples are sparing themselves sexual frustration and animosity, and not introducing any feelings of jealousy or inadequacy that may arise if the dissatisfied partner proposed an open relationship. I'm not sure how I feel about this. It makes sense to spare the core loyalty and commitment of a relationship, i.e. the love, from any sexual mismatch the couple might experience. I just don't know about it being in the form of infidelity, no matter how clinical and unromantic Savage tries to make it sound. This seems like a violation of a level of trust that any committed relationship is expected to develop. Need some kink? From someone more comfortable with kink than your spouse? That's fine, but I think you should be honest about it. Savage's own examples, the successful ones he uses in this chapter, are more in keeping with open relationships than cheating, because the couples establish that openness; a wife writes to tell Savage that he saved her marriage by advising her husband to see a professional dominatrix rather than expect sexual pleasure in channels that make her uncomfortable. That's communication and problem-solving, not cheating. And the few that do cheat and make it work... I don't know. It's something that I personally would be uncomfortable with. I would much prefer openness and understanding of differing sexual needs. Or at least, I think I would. Untested waters here. If nothing else, Dan Savage is thought-provoking in this chapter; I will take his proposal with a grain of salt. Buy this title from Powell's Books.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I am a supporter of marriage equality. Love is love. You should be able to spend forever with the person you love, and they should get the same benefits that my husband and I get from our marriage. I can accept the idea that each church interprets things in their own way, so if they don’t want to perform your ceremony, I can’t really fault them that but I do expect civility from everyone. But I think the state should not interfere with two adult people being married. I can’t even begin to see h I am a supporter of marriage equality. Love is love. You should be able to spend forever with the person you love, and they should get the same benefits that my husband and I get from our marriage. I can accept the idea that each church interprets things in their own way, so if they don’t want to perform your ceremony, I can’t really fault them that but I do expect civility from everyone. But I think the state should not interfere with two adult people being married. I can’t even begin to see how it matters what’s inside their pants, or how they use it in private, as to if they get to provide dental insurance for each other. (The state should also not care what I do, as a straight person, in private. Same rules for everyone, same legal rights all the way around, thank you.)So, with that in mind, I requested American Savage: Insights, Slights and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love and Politics by Dan Savage from NetGalley. The subtitle alone should clue you in that this is not a quiet read, and I did not expect it to be so. I have not been a follower of Dan Savage’s sex advice column, Savage Love, and only knew his name in a vague way. It turns out, Savage is blunt, funny, and I agree with pretty much everything he says in the book. I appreciate that he’s honest about who he is- gay, married, a parent, outspoken, monogamish (his word). You are probably familiar with the It Gets Better Project, which was founded by Savage to help combat anti-gay bullying.In American Savage, he discusses everything from marriage, to sex, to parenting, to politics. He talks about when it’s ok to cheat and when it’s not. (Oh, I know, it’s never ok. Once a cheater always a cheater! Blah blah. It’s still good food for thought, and is convincingly argued.) It’s both crude and respectful (seems impossible, but is true.) He is not anti-religion, and admits to longing to be part of the Catholic Church, as in his youth, but realizes that his lack of faith and his complete disagreement with church politics make this impossible. There is a lot of discussion of marriage, and what makes a good marriage, for both same-sex marriages and straight marriages. There are a lot of personal attacks on anti-equality people, and a lot of crude talk about them, but I didn’t feel like he ever stoops to the Facebook level of ridiculous insult (if you are on Facebook, you know what I mean by this.) He does insult the Catholic Church, and the Pope, but in my opinion never full scale bashing for the sake of bashing. (Hello, Facebook. Again.)To be clear, this book is not polite. It is largely about things that were I to blog the actual words would bring the wrong people to my blog. If you are offended by language or sex you should not even bother picking it up. But if you would like to have someone else articulate why you believe in marriage equality, this is a great choice. With the exception of one chapter on death, I enjoyed the entire thing. It was funny, honest, brutal, and graphic. It would definitely get banned at any high school I know (Except maybe mine.) But it was also human, and written by someone with the experience to know what he’s talking about. It clarified a lot of the things I believe, but hadn’t taken the time to properly think through. I won’t be recommending it to everyone I know, or even everyone who reads my blog, but I am glad I read it.
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  • Shannon
    January 1, 1970
    Dan Savage's new book is largely a rehash—or a summation—of the themes he deals with in his column and his in blogging for the The Stranger. There are chapters here that cover sexual politics (ethical non-monogamy, the science and activism of bisexuality, sex-ed in schools) and politics-politics (Obamacare, the It Gets Better project, the fight for marriage equality) as well as a few personal essays. The personal material is the freshest, and I found it enormously sympathetic, especially Dan's a Dan Savage's new book is largely a rehash—or a summation—of the themes he deals with in his column and his in blogging for the The Stranger. There are chapters here that cover sexual politics (ethical non-monogamy, the science and activism of bisexuality, sex-ed in schools) and politics-politics (Obamacare, the It Gets Better project, the fight for marriage equality) as well as a few personal essays. The personal material is the freshest, and I found it enormously sympathetic, especially Dan's account of being at his mother's bedside during her final moments. Still, there's not a lot here that will be new to his regular readers.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    I've been listening to Dan Savage's podcast for a little over six years now and so obviously I like what he has to say. His ability to publicize and ridicule the hypocrisy of political and religious leaders is second to none. And, as a gay rights activist he is pretty much a GAY SUPERHERO. And let's not forget that he made Stephen Colbert fall out of character:http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/07/13/w...Love him. Love this book of personal and political essays.
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    I love Dan Savage. I do. I love The Kid and The Commitment and I loved this book to. The end wanders a bit and I don't agree with everything he has to say (although, I do agree with most of it) I thought this was a great read that was fun and made me think.
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  • Ana
    January 1, 1970
    I like the blend of personal stories and politics.
  • Felicia J.
    January 1, 1970
    Full disclosure: I’m a Dan Savage fangirl. I’ve read his sex-advice column for close to 20 years. (Yes, kiddos, when I started reading "Savage Love," I had to hunt for it in the back pages of big-city alternative newspapers - near the sex ads - rather than looking it up on Google.) I listen to his podcast and keep up with his blog. When I first discovered Dan, I thought his was the sanest, most honest sex advice I’d ever read. I still think that.Dan’s newest book is like Savage 101 for those not Full disclosure: I’m a Dan Savage fangirl. I’ve read his sex-advice column for close to 20 years. (Yes, kiddos, when I started reading "Savage Love," I had to hunt for it in the back pages of big-city alternative newspapers - near the sex ads - rather than looking it up on Google.) I listen to his podcast and keep up with his blog. When I first discovered Dan, I thought his was the sanest, most honest sex advice I’d ever read. I still think that.Dan’s newest book is like Savage 101 for those not familiar with his hard-hitting, and often hilarious, column and podcast or his controversial opinions. In "American Savage," Dan covers everything that’s recently created buzz in the blogosphere – GGG and "monogamish," coming out and gay marriage, anti-gay bigots and the Santorum Google bomb, "Bullshitgate" and his subsequent dinner-table debate with gay-marriage opponent Brian Brown. He shares his views on gun control, voluntary euthanasia, health care reform and more. His writing is clear, concise, pulls no punches and often is funny as hell. For fans of Savage, this book can serve as a reference work on all things Dan, plus it’s just plain fun and thought-provoking to listen to.The audiobook provides the bonus of hearing Dan read his own words. He has one of the most expressive voices I’ve ever heard. You can always hear the feelings behind his words – compassion, incredulity, amusement, righteous anger. Listening to the book is like having a riotous conversation with your opinionated uncle after he’s had a few drinks.Dan is at his best when writing about his family, and he shares many anecdotes here. His teenage son DJ has many of the book’s best lines. I was in tears listening to Dan describe the recent loss of his mother and laughed my head off when he wrote about his husband, Terry’s, reaction to hosting Brian Brown in their home. ("It’s bigot Christmas!" Terry proclaimed as they cleaned the house top to bottom.) I got choked up again when Dan described the heartfelt celebration at Seattle City Hall after he and Terry finally got to exchange wedding vows in their home state."American Savage" doesn’t quite reach the level of "The Kid" or "The Commitment," Dan’s essential memoirs about the adoption of his son, and his and Terry’s decision to exchange marriage vows (in Canada the first time). But fans will love it, and those new to Dan who want to see what he’s all about will enjoy it as well. It’s not for the easily offended, but even staunch conservatives opposed to everything Dan stands for may learn a few things from it.
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  • Naomi V
    January 1, 1970
    I did something with this book that I have never done before. I first turned to the last chapter, Bigot Christmas, to read why Dan says that his husband, Terry Miller, is the winner of the debate with the president of NOM (‘National Organization for Marriage’, which is not at all about promoting marriage; not about keeping people married – they don’t oppose divorce; but is, of course, completely about preventing gay marriage.) It was immensely satisfying to read how that day ended, and I agree t I did something with this book that I have never done before. I first turned to the last chapter, Bigot Christmas, to read why Dan says that his husband, Terry Miller, is the winner of the debate with the president of NOM (‘National Organization for Marriage’, which is not at all about promoting marriage; not about keeping people married – they don’t oppose divorce; but is, of course, completely about preventing gay marriage.) It was immensely satisfying to read how that day ended, and I agree that Terry won the debate. [I’m not going to be the one to spoil it for you – read it for yourself; there’s plenty of other good stuff to make buying the book worthwhile.)Dan Savage; sex and relationship advice columnist, gay activist, co-founder of the It Gets Better Project, coiner of "DTMFA", whose readers came up with the appropriate definition for santorum (creating "Santorum's Google problem) – I’ve been a fan for several years and have read his other books; so of course, I immediately bought his new book to see what’s new with Dan.He covers many subjects that concern him: Health care (why don’t we have a public option?), gun violence, gay rights, reproductive rights (as he says: the same people trying to prevent marriage equality are the same people trying to restrict your right to an abortion and even contraceptives), marriage equality, bullying, religion (or lack thereof) and so on. Savage isn’t for everybody. He’s blunt and he’s sometimes profane. He can even be downright mean at times (not so much lately, actually, and not in this book.) I would call him honest and forthright. I would say that he doesn’t pull punches; especially when it comes to dealing with bigots and bullies.If you’re a Dan Savage fan, like me, you’ve read his weekly column, listened to his weekly podcasts, seen him in person, watched his online videos, read his other books, read his letter of the day, seen him comment on current events on news programs…and you’ve heard and read most of the stuff in his book at some point. If you aren’t totally immersed in Dan Savage’s public world, this is an excellent way to get started.
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  • Beth Jusino
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book about perspective, so it might help to start with my own:I grew up in an old-fashioned Baptist church, went to super-conservative Christian schools from kindergarten through college, and worked in the Christian subculture for the next ten years. It wasn't bad, but it was... sheltered.Then a few years ago I grabbed a pin and popped the bubble that I was living in, and I ended up in, of all places, Capitol Hill, Seattle. My friend groups changed radically. My vocabulary expanded. I This is a book about perspective, so it might help to start with my own:I grew up in an old-fashioned Baptist church, went to super-conservative Christian schools from kindergarten through college, and worked in the Christian subculture for the next ten years. It wasn't bad, but it was... sheltered.Then a few years ago I grabbed a pin and popped the bubble that I was living in, and I ended up in, of all places, Capitol Hill, Seattle. My friend groups changed radically. My vocabulary expanded. I started catching up to the 21st century.Dan Savage has been part of that education. Dan's my neighbor-ish (he lives a few block away), so I love to read about his daily and family life, as it happens in geographic parallel to my own. And when it comes to politics, there's not much to disagree with--gun control, health care, equal rights... I'm right there with him. And for all of the "I'm an asshole" persona, this is a guy with a house and a kid and a spouse who sometimes he annoys. (The great Dan Savage has no problem debating a well-known anti-gay activist in front of TV cameras, but is scared to tell his husband that he's invited the man over for dinner.)More than anything, this book struck me as a reflection on settling into a world that's "still evil. Less evil. But still evil." He's entertaining, thought-provoking, attention-getting, and usually right. Well done, Mr. Savage. And thanks for the education.
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    While much of this book will be familiar to anyone who regularly reads Dan Savage's writing or listens to his podcast, it was still worth reading in book form.My only major issue was his chapter on bisexuality, which, as usual, was technically OK but the tone was all wrong and infuriating. It's good that Savage has moved away from his previous, false position that male bisexuals don't exist. They do (Hi!). But there's a defensiveness in the way that he writes about bisexuality that's just annoyi While much of this book will be familiar to anyone who regularly reads Dan Savage's writing or listens to his podcast, it was still worth reading in book form.My only major issue was his chapter on bisexuality, which, as usual, was technically OK but the tone was all wrong and infuriating. It's good that Savage has moved away from his previous, false position that male bisexuals don't exist. They do (Hi!). But there's a defensiveness in the way that he writes about bisexuality that's just annoying. Like bisexuals are being unreasonable about being annoyed at how he handles bisexuality—a vicious cycle. He certainly isn't biphobic as some people claim. As Savage discusses, he once was, but the people claiming current biphobia or transphobia on Savage's part are confusing him being an asshole—the thing that makes his writing so enjoyable to read—with actual animus.However, with that one mixed chapter excluded, the book was excellant. He talks about everything from when it should be OK to cheat to Bigot Christmas—the Brian Brown, the president of the anti-queer hate group the National Organization for marriage, came to dinner. My favorite part by far was his discussion of International Mr. Leather and peanut butter cookies. Because is there really anything more fun in life than BDSM and baking?
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  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    What I love about Dan Savage is that he's so smart and so angry and so fun at the same time. I'm incredibly glad that his voice is out there, because even when I don't completely agree with him about something (usually something minor), I know that his voice is one that we need so badly. His rhetoric is eminently sensible--rational, well-informed, and passionate without blustering. There are a lot of angry people who share my political beliefs, but Dan's the one I want to follow around all day.T What I love about Dan Savage is that he's so smart and so angry and so fun at the same time. I'm incredibly glad that his voice is out there, because even when I don't completely agree with him about something (usually something minor), I know that his voice is one that we need so badly. His rhetoric is eminently sensible--rational, well-informed, and passionate without blustering. There are a lot of angry people who share my political beliefs, but Dan's the one I want to follow around all day.This is an accumulation of essays; I'm not sure if they've been published elsewhere, but they fit together nicely. There's a lot of good information here for the moderately-informed (like me) that digs into gay rights, Obamacare, and physician-assisted suicide a little bit more. He's incredibly accessible, and amusing without making jokes. This is a smart book that enjoys thinking about issues morally and pragmatically. I feel more rational after reading it.
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  • Tiffany
    January 1, 1970
    I picked this up off the Pride Month display at my local library, assuming it would be entertaining. I read his column, Savage Love, from time to time, but not regularly. If I hear him on the radio, I listen, but I don't seek him out. Not intentionally, but his work just doesn't often enter my orbit. So, I was expecting entertainment. But this was beyond just entertainment. It was funny and insightful, irreverent yet respectful. I highly recommend it to anyone alive today. I thought I was well i I picked this up off the Pride Month display at my local library, assuming it would be entertaining. I read his column, Savage Love, from time to time, but not regularly. If I hear him on the radio, I listen, but I don't seek him out. Not intentionally, but his work just doesn't often enter my orbit. So, I was expecting entertainment. But this was beyond just entertainment. It was funny and insightful, irreverent yet respectful. I highly recommend it to anyone alive today. I thought I was well informed on the long and amazing fight for gay equality, but I learned a ton from this. But, it wasn't just about that. It was about so many things, all treated with common sense and humor and refreshing clarity.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    Super smart and clever guy with thoroughly thought out arguments around LGBTQ rights, as well as helpful insights into relationships in general. I was left with a feeling of being validated and supported in my efforts to live my life being Out as gay and true to myself- I appreciate that.
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  • Shannon
    January 1, 1970
    The two best chapters in this, in my opinion, are the ones on Rick Santorum, and on the death of Savage's mother/the "right to die" debate chapter (and two very different chapters they are, though they are right next to each other in the book). Here's a little preview for you, I don't think I need to say which is from which:"She gasped for breath, again and again, as we sat there waiting for her heart to stop, my sister and I both waiting for the very first sound that we ever heard- our mother's The two best chapters in this, in my opinion, are the ones on Rick Santorum, and on the death of Savage's mother/the "right to die" debate chapter (and two very different chapters they are, though they are right next to each other in the book). Here's a little preview for you, I don't think I need to say which is from which:"She gasped for breath, again and again, as we sat there waiting for her heart to stop, my sister and I both waiting for the very first sound that we ever heard- our mother's heartbeat- to go silent." Shannon's note: )));aaand,"Santorum's breakout led to headlines like SANTORUM SURGES FROM BEHIND IN NORTH TEXAS, ROMNEY HOPES TO HOLD OFF RISING SANTORUM, and my personal favorite, SANTORUM COMES FROM BEHIND IN ALABAMA THREE-WAY. These headlines won't be funny to anyone who doesn't know the new definition of Rick Santorum's last name. So here is is:santorum (san-TOR-um) n. the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-prodct of anal sex." Shannon's note: :DDDSavage gets credit for destroying Santorum's name, and he definitely deserves some, though he explains how it all went down, and how the person who came up with the new "definition" was not him, but he did help pick it as the favorite and promote it and how it helped destroy Santorum's political campaign (which clearly he deserved, I don't want to cover this review in Santorum, [:D] but, google him if you don't believe me).Other notable chapters include where he endorses (in some circumstances) cheating on your partner, an interesting stance to take, and one I was inclined to actually go "yeah, sure, why not" though mostly I just thought "This is why monogamy fails so much", and the one called "Mistakes were made" which is about how Savage used to state that male bisexuality was a transitional phase to gayness, and not a legit sexual orientation. He takes it back! Okay! But then also goes on to say, like, you know, it actually IS a transitional phase for SOME gay men. And not a transitional phase for actual bi men. (paraphrasing). Which, you know, I think makes total sense. But, people always seem to find a way to get offended by Savage. That's fine, I'm sure they can find something in that chapter (or the rest of the book) to be bothered by. I do think Savage is a bad target, as I don't think he has any malice toward any minority group, but, I do also understand people wanting a public "representation" of them (I mean, he isn't really a spokesperson for all gay men/queer people, of course, but, lets face it, some people will see him that way) to be a positive one. I think he is, though, for the record. Aaanyway. I went on a Savage-binge and consumed a bunch of his stuff, so it was a little repetitive for me, reading this book, after reading several other books by him, listening to interviews, etc. He does overlap topics a lot, and express the same kinda opinion on them. Which is fine, but you know, not as exciting if you keep hearing it. This book did have a wide variety of topics, and is, as always, written with a great sense of humor and a strong, unapologetic voice, which is what I love about him. Definitely worth a read. (Yay I finally wrote a review [that ended up just being mostly quotes] three months after finishing the book! Are you all proud!? Was it so worth it?! I hope it was so hella worth it, b/c I have renewed this book from the library like 6 times just so I could do this- sorry, Sacramento, I'm hogging book out of review-laziness, you can have it back now).
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  • Shawn Birss
    January 1, 1970
    This book, frequently very funny, often truly heartwarming, sometimes challenging, and occasionally problematic, accomplished exactly what it set out to do. Last year I read God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines. Over the last few months, I've enjoyed the first sixteen issues of the adult sex comedy comic book Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. Dan Savage's American Savage lands right around the middle of a spectrum with those two books on each end. It is a cultural critique, This book, frequently very funny, often truly heartwarming, sometimes challenging, and occasionally problematic, accomplished exactly what it set out to do. Last year I read God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines. Over the last few months, I've enjoyed the first sixteen issues of the adult sex comedy comic book Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. Dan Savage's American Savage lands right around the middle of a spectrum with those two books on each end. It is a cultural critique, an autobiographical sketch, and a political plea for justice and equality in the realm of gender and sexuality in North America in the beginning of the 21st Century, and for marriage equality for gays and lesbians in the United States specifically. As a reader who is in agreement with Dan Savage's cultural and political views four out of five times, who has followed his column for almost a decade, and who attended one of his appearances with a large group of friends of which I was one of only two straight males, I found the book a fun and funny read. As a theologian and former evangelical pastor, I was frequently impressed with the depth of knowledge of scripture displayed in the book, as well as the obviously deep respect shown frequently for Christians, and Catholics especially. I'd dare say that there was a lot of preaching to the choir (pardon the cliche) in this book, making it an easy pill to swallow (no apologies this time) for this reader. But I think that it is actually mainstream straight American Christians (who are a great deal more progressive than the culture warrior Christians who dominate the conversation on their behalf) that Dan Savage has in mind as he presents his stories, anecdotes, and arguments. This I did not expect, but was pleased to discover.I am glad Dan Savage is who he is and does what he does. I'm glad this book exists. That said, I realized early that I was not reading a rhetorical analysis or academic research paper on the subjects within. Instead, I found I enjoyed the book most read as I would any other pundit, like a book by Glenn Beck or Michael Moore. It's highly entertaining. It's funny. It's an easy read. It's a pat on the back for those who agree and a good guffaw at those who do not. And this is both the book's strength and its weakness. In the hands of progressive Christians or Americans with Christian families, it is an encouraging read in the midst of a dark cultural and political climate (much darker than when the book was published in 2013, as I write this in 2017). It will probably also give those readers some real, solid arguments and examples of good debate for when they have to engage those who do not understand or agree with Dan's arguments for justice and equality. This the book did well, and for it I am glad.My favourite parts of the book were when Savage got very personal. Stories of his family - his husband, son, and toy poodle - and stories of growing up gay in America were affecting and vulnerable and beautiful. And important. I also enjoyed the occasional chapter of pure sass, like the one in which he invited Joel Osteen to suck his dick. But the heart of the book really was in its heart, in the moments where Savage let us see him up close with his real needs and desires and hurts. I also think that this is what makes the book most potentially impactful. Movements in culture toward equality and away from bigotry are not made because of arguments, but because of relationships. People get to know real people, friends, neighbours, and family that are not like them, and unlearn their own prejudices. Savage has unselfishly allowed himself to be one of those on the edge for mainstream straight folks to meet and experience in a safe and disarming way. However... despite all of the above I could not shake for the entire book just how very well ordered the whole thing was in its humour, its vulnerability, and its rhetoric. Yes, I already came to the book agreeing with Savage most of the time. But as I said in the beginning of this review, this is no academic treatise. This is a book by a pundit. It is propaganda. The stories may be true. The arguments may (often, maybe most of the time) be sound, and the research may be real, but there is a fair amount of careful editing of facts in this book as well. There are many straw men. There are many books more guilty of this kind of cultural discourse than this one, but any reader ought to come to this one with eyes as wide open as they would to a similar book by a pundit with whom they disagree. I appreciated that Savage was familiar with scripture and with American Christian culture. I liked that he referenced Matthew Vines' book. However, even Vines' book, thoroughly researched and carefully written as a theological and biblical argument, is not a total slam dunk. Savage presents his book with the air that his is. This kind of confidence is good reading, and has its place, and will be effective in the broad culture. However, I would have not found this book entirely convincing when I was an evangelical pastor that believed sex between persons of the same gender was sin. I would have read it (as I did read Savage's column during that period of my life), and found it moving, and would have been sad, and would have carefully examined myself, it wouldn't have taken me over that line into accepting gay marriage equality. But it would have brought me closer. That's where this book lands. It's a nudge. Depending on how willing the reader is to listen, it might be more like a goad. Or a prick. Or a slap. I like it. Finally, I want to weigh in on Savage's controversial position in the progressive culture. I've been on a journey myself with Savage, as I read his column while an evangelical minister, and now read his book as a former minister, nontheist Christian in a Christian family. Where he once challenged me from the left, I was surprised for the first time reading this book to find him annoying me from the right. I mentioned early in this review that I agree with him 4/5 of the time. I never would have guessed ten years ago that my 1/5 disagreement would ever be that he isn't quite progressive enough. But this is now so. As I mentioned, Savage has placed himself happily on the most inoffensive and accessible edge of the culture of gay voices, and he is effective where he is. However, within the realm of queer experience, Savage is about as privileged as a gay man can be. He is a fit, white, married, funny, successful, wealthy, good looking cisman with an adopted son. Unfortunately, his privilege shows. The negative impact of his privilege on his writing seem to be exacerbated by the echo chamber that comes with celebrity, especially the kind of celebrity that comes with being considered an authority. This is most obvious in Savage's writing about women specifically. He seems to have a blind spot when it comes to women's experience, and an inability to acknowledge his male privilege. He does acknowledge that he is aware of this controversy, but takes a defensive stance that only magnifies the very real problem. I'd go as far as to say that there is a very real, though mild, casual misogyny under the text of much of this book, and it does rear its head a couple of times. That Savage's defence is that he knows and loves a lot of women among his friends and family is pretty weak tea. Even he calls out others when bigots use the same defence of having gay friends while they show their prejudices. This is far from enough to reject the book, or Dan Savage (says this middle class, white, married Cis male reader). However, like many books steeped in their own cultural milieu, I would not be surprised to find certain parts of this book, notably the near exclusion of women and the dismissive tone toward them when they appear, will not age well. Any reader and fan of Savage Love will absolutely love this book. Liberals who enjoy a laugh with some heartwarming anecdotes will love this book. Progressive and/or thoughtful Christians will probably find this book a welcome challenge, and will be pleased to find Savage an ally in their own journey navigating Christian culture in North America. Thoughtful feminists may be annoyed enough to consider not finishing the book a few times, but will probably enjoy and appreciate it in its entirety if they give it a chance. Conservatives would probably enjoy hate reading this book, because it actually is really funny, and many of them enjoy feeling like they are being persecuted, which this book will allow them to continue to play act that they are. So, it's kind of for everybody. As I said, though, this book may not age well, so consider any recommendation to cool off in its enthusiasm every year after its publication, until, let us say, 2030? After that time, I predict it will become a quaint and interesting cultural artifact. I don't think Savage will mind that at all.
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  • Lena
    January 1, 1970
    I became curious to hear more from gay activist and sex advice columnist Dan Savage after he was on This American Life, where he told a moving tale about how, long after his Catholic Republican parents had come to actively support his desire to marry his long time partner Terry, they found their own 4-year old adopted son adamantly against the idea. American Savage is a collection of Dan's essays on a wide variety of topics, including whether or not it's ever okay to cheat in a relationship, wha I became curious to hear more from gay activist and sex advice columnist Dan Savage after he was on This American Life, where he told a moving tale about how, long after his Catholic Republican parents had come to actively support his desire to marry his long time partner Terry, they found their own 4-year old adopted son adamantly against the idea. American Savage is a collection of Dan's essays on a wide variety of topics, including whether or not it's ever okay to cheat in a relationship, what inspired him to start the "It Gets Better" project, and the time he hosted a dinner/debate at his home for the head of the most prominent organization fighting gay marriage in the US.Since Savage has been giving sex advice to both gays and straights for 20 years now, he is comfortably graphic in his discussions of pretty much everything. That openness allows him to offer some unique insights, such as a compelling argument as to why one will find so many Catholics in BDSM communities. While there is plenty of talk about sex in this book, however, the majority of the essays here are about basic civil rights and the LBGT communities' fight to get them. Savage's status as a frontline activist has left him intimately familiar with the astonishing levels of hypocrisy displayed by the other side, and he uses several of these essays to highlight the most egregious examples of bigotry disguised as family values. While I don't agree with Savage on everything, the case he makes that LBGT activists have done more to promote truly traditional family values than anyone is a very easy one to support.While his topics are sometimes deadly serious, Savage himself is very funny. A lot of that humor can be dark, but that is often needed to balance out such horrifying moments as one anti-gay activist's call to start an "underground railroad" to "rescue" adopted children from gay parents.I experienced a full range of emotions reading this book - bouncing from surprise to fury to laughter to discomfort to hope all within a few pages. Its graphic content is not going to be for everyone, but if you are interested in having your thoughts intelligently provoked, this book will take very good care of you.
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  • Laurel
    January 1, 1970
    American Savage is, as the subtitle would suggest, a whirlwind of "insights, slight, and fights." Don't expect a biographical narrative like earlier books such as "The Kid": this one is a series of topical essays. Know that going in.If you're of a certain political persuasion (and you probably are if you're considering picking this book up at all), you're going to be nodding along through much of American Savage For those who already know and love Dan Savage and his work, this installment hits a American Savage is, as the subtitle would suggest, a whirlwind of "insights, slight, and fights." Don't expect a biographical narrative like earlier books such as "The Kid": this one is a series of topical essays. Know that going in.If you're of a certain political persuasion (and you probably are if you're considering picking this book up at all), you're going to be nodding along through much of American Savage For those who already know and love Dan Savage and his work, this installment hits all the familiar topics: social conservatives, gay rights, high-school bullies, right-wing politician bullies, the Catholic church (lots of mentions of retired Pope Benedict, which may or may not have been changed by the publication date since his unexpected retirement)... and of course, since it's his day job, sex. If you follow either the Savage Love podcast or his written column in the Stranger, these rants are going to seem quite familiar in content. Likewise, there are some biographical vignettes included in the topical chapters which have previously been fleshed out thoroughly in some of Dan's appearances on the radio show This American Life. They're still good, of course, but for Savage completists they'll sound familiar.Dan is at his best, however, when he speaks of his family. That's when you really get to see what a softie he really is behind all of the angry grandstanding (which, don't get me wrong, is still very entertaining grandstanding). Stories about Terry and D.J. are rare in his other projects, so I look forward to these snippets in Savage's books. One particular highlight is the final chapter in the book, "Bigot Christmas," which tells the full story of how the Savage household invited anti-gay rights activist Brian Brown over for dinner -- with a camera crew in tow. The account has not been discussed elsewhere, and it alone is worth the "price of admission."All in all, a quick and fun read. ---------Disclaimer: I received an electronic proof copy from the publishers to review. But the opinions, as always, are my own.
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  • Alicja
    January 1, 1970
    rating: 4/5For fans who follow Savage’s column, podcast, public speaking engagements, etc. on a semi-regular basis, a portion of this book will be repetition. For example, Chapter 2 “It’s Never Okay to Cheat (Except When It Is)" has been reiterated on many occasions, especially when he gives advice on so many cheating questions. That said, there was also new to me content such as Chapter 6 “My Son Comes Out”. Despite some repetition, I wasn’t bored during any part of the book. Savage is hilariou rating: 4/5For fans who follow Savage’s column, podcast, public speaking engagements, etc. on a semi-regular basis, a portion of this book will be repetition. For example, Chapter 2 “It’s Never Okay to Cheat (Except When It Is)" has been reiterated on many occasions, especially when he gives advice on so many cheating questions. That said, there was also new to me content such as Chapter 6 “My Son Comes Out”. Despite some repetition, I wasn’t bored during any part of the book. Savage is hilarious and has such an interesting way of telling a story that I could listen to him tell the same story over and over again and still be interested. My favorite chapters were chapter 11, “Mistakes Were Made,” where Dan talks about all the oops moments of his career and chapter 17, “Bigot Christmas,” where Terry wins the argument against NOM’s Brian Brown (yes, it is an amazing moment and no, I won't spoil it so you have to pick up the book and read it to find out).For anyone who has only sporadically heard Dan speak or none at all, this is a great collection of essays that gets down to the core of what Dan’s views on faith, sex, love, and politics.Side note to Dan: I need to add my opinions to all the others out there on the issue of “canned ham” vagina look-alikes. You are always trying to improve sex lives of your readers and listeners. You almost killed mine, for a night only (thankfully). You may find ham delicious but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As a vegetarian/vegan (depending on when you ask me), I associate the thought of ham with images of tortured pigs in factory farms being overfed, shot up by hormones, and suffering from diseases that will never be treated. Associating ham with female genitalia is bad, terrible, even catastrophic for my sex life (at least until I can get those images out of my head). It is with this sentiment that I ask you to retire the comparison, if for no other reason than save the sex lives of (vagina loving) veg*ns.
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  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    I love Dan Savage. He is a voice of honesty about sex, relationships, and moral social issues in a world that shuns and shames such honesty. His writing, as always, does not shy away from unpopular positions because it would be easy or more socially accepted. He uses personal anecdotes to convey important messages and writes with the most contemporary of examples possible. He calls a spade a spade, a bigot a bigot, and admits when he is right and wrong. For all of these reasons I should have lov I love Dan Savage. He is a voice of honesty about sex, relationships, and moral social issues in a world that shuns and shames such honesty. His writing, as always, does not shy away from unpopular positions because it would be easy or more socially accepted. He uses personal anecdotes to convey important messages and writes with the most contemporary of examples possible. He calls a spade a spade, a bigot a bigot, and admits when he is right and wrong. For all of these reasons I should have loved this book.The reason the book received a slightly lower rating is because the content of this book is not new. For those individuals who follow Mr. Savage on Twitter, Facebook, his blog, his public lectures, his earlier books, or his podcast- you've heard and read it before. There was very little in this book I found new or novel. I am CERTAINLY NOT saying that the content isn't good. By all means the content should be required reading for most people (especially those who are on the fence on many contemporary topics). I am also NOT saying that this book doesn't move you- I certainly felt my heart melt, beat faster, and break at several points while reading this book. But for those of us who are more familiar with the author and his positions, I think the book was merely a compendium of things we've already experienced from Mr. Savage.There is quality content in this book that verifies the claims and positions taken by Savage.The humour is sassy, witty, and dry in true Dan Savage form.The messages are important and valuable.Read this book if you are new(er) to Dan Savage. Read this book if you want a quick and easy read. Read this book if you are on the fence about various topics related to sex, love, politics, and faith and want an openly liberal perspective. But if you are like me, and already a follower of Mr. Savage, then just go into reading it with no expectations of gleaning anything new from him. Just enjoy it for what it is: a good read.
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  • Jim
    January 1, 1970
    You shouldn't spend all your time reading things you completely agree with. But I spend so much time around people and seeing things on social media that I disagree with, it's refreshing to read something I do agree with. My beliefs get challenged every single day in one way or another, so I don't think coming across a book that doesn't is necessarily bad for my belief system. I loved this wonderful series of essays. They were very funny, very absorbing. One thing I love about Savage (one of the You shouldn't spend all your time reading things you completely agree with. But I spend so much time around people and seeing things on social media that I disagree with, it's refreshing to read something I do agree with. My beliefs get challenged every single day in one way or another, so I don't think coming across a book that doesn't is necessarily bad for my belief system. I loved this wonderful series of essays. They were very funny, very absorbing. One thing I love about Savage (one of the founders of the It Gets Better Campaign campaign) is that he lays things out so logically. And on top of that, he actually cites his statistics. All Savage is trying to do is spread love and justice and equality. Even his controversial sex blog is about making people healthier. I really connected with At a Loss, having just left a faith community of my own. Reading this brought my way of thinking into sharp contrast with those I left. While I was reveling in this book - taking to heart the journey and logic Savage uses, the community I left was inviting Fred Stoeker (of Every Man's Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time fame) to speak. Savage would say Stoeker gives damaging advice, and Stoeker would say the same of Savage. Fascinating. A good friend of mine would put it this way. Stoeker would say we should be more uptight (and have more shame) about sex. Savage would say we should be less uptight (and have less shame) about sex. The healthier side of this equation should be intuitively obvious. But to too many conservatives, it's not. Highly recommended.
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  • Kiwi
    January 1, 1970
    I was stuck between two and three stars so I rounded up and went with three.I liked a number of the things he talked about and the care he took in research, statistics and referencing others. As always I was not always fond of his tone, his analogies or some of the blinding learning points he still has yet to make. It was also somewhat frustrating to have a section on apologies to bisexuals (of which I am not one, so it's not my having my knickers in a twist) in which he mostly pointed out again I was stuck between two and three stars so I rounded up and went with three.I liked a number of the things he talked about and the care he took in research, statistics and referencing others. As always I was not always fond of his tone, his analogies or some of the blinding learning points he still has yet to make. It was also somewhat frustrating to have a section on apologies to bisexuals (of which I am not one, so it's not my having my knickers in a twist) in which he mostly pointed out again why he said all his things and why he was right - which admittedly, he made good points in - without what felt like an actual apology. But I think that's what irks me most about Savage: an unapologetic person is not my favourite, no matter how much a person who is unapologetically *themselves* is - and it is very possible to be both.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I can’t believe I’ve never read Dan Savage before. Seems right up my alley, does it not? Loud, liberal, and oh-so-snarky– what’s not to love? Moreover, I don’t think Savage missed one hot-button issue in his to-the-point (and evidence-based!) deconstruction of politics and social conception of right and wrong. Healthcare? Check. Gun control? Check. Gay rights? Double check. And, predictably, I’m on board with 99% of Savage’s arguments. Healthcare is a human right and should be provided to all eq I can’t believe I’ve never read Dan Savage before. Seems right up my alley, does it not? Loud, liberal, and oh-so-snarky– what’s not to love? Moreover, I don’t think Savage missed one hot-button issue in his to-the-point (and evidence-based!) deconstruction of politics and social conception of right and wrong. Healthcare? Check. Gun control? Check. Gay rights? Double check. And, predictably, I’m on board with 99% of Savage’s arguments. Healthcare is a human right and should be provided to all equally through the most effective/efficient means possible which is, currently, a single-payer system (as has successfully been implemented in all other Western industrialized countries for quite some time now). Guns should be regulated just like every other possibly dangerous item, like cars and medications and the decision-making capacity of greedy CEO’s. There is far too much gun violence to argue that a conversation about regulation is unnecessary or unconstitutional. Gay rights. Seriously? Is this still even up for debate? If you’re more concerned about the genitals of folks walking down the isle than about all the war and poverty and economic crises we have going on right now, you should be ashamed of yourself. Really. While there were a few of Savage’s opinions that I didn’t necessarily agree with (or at least with the way he framed them in this book), I was truly impressed with his ability to simultaneously embody controversy, humor, and intelligence. And he definitely gets extra credit for all the references, citations, and legit evidence he uses to back his arguments. A master at his craft, indeed.
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  • Nikmaack
    January 1, 1970
    I genuinely do not understand what is the point of reading a book of political opinions that I agree with. Gun control good, hating gays bad. Yes, yes, yes. I get it. Occasionally Dan Savage, who I adore, talks about things I'd like to hear more about. The book is at its best when he's telling stories about his life and his experiences. It suffers when he rants endlessly and repetitively about things that seem (to me) self evident.People who use the bible to bolster their intolerance are silly. I genuinely do not understand what is the point of reading a book of political opinions that I agree with. Gun control good, hating gays bad. Yes, yes, yes. I get it. Occasionally Dan Savage, who I adore, talks about things I'd like to hear more about. The book is at its best when he's telling stories about his life and his experiences. It suffers when he rants endlessly and repetitively about things that seem (to me) self evident.People who use the bible to bolster their intolerance are silly. There. Conversation over. There are multiple chapters devoted to that single sentence.Another problem I had with the book -- I am a Dan Savage fanatic. I have listened to every single one of his podcasts. So coming across a chapter on how Halloween is the straight pride parade... Do I really have to hear that old chestnut again?This particular criticism of the book is not Savage's fault -- what can you write about when every week you provide a podcast where you speak your piece? How can you possibly present new material?When I asked the wife, "Do you want to read this?" she said no."I looked at it. It's all about politics and not about sex. I'd rather read about sex."Me too. Still, I don't regret buying the book. Dan Savage has given me many free podcasts. An opportunity to give him support and money by buying his book? Just a little but of payback.Maybe I should have signed up for the extended version of his podcasts instead.
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