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A Theory of Everything Else: Essays
Laura Pedersen. She Writes, $16.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-63152-737-1
Pedersen (Wanda’s Better Way), a playwright and children’s author, serves up a spirited and observant collection of musings on her past and on modern American culture. Taking her tongue-in-cheek title from physics’ elusive “theory of everything,” she opens with a section entitled “Quadrupeds,” a curious selection of pet-centric essays whose appeal will depend on the reader’s tolerance for doggie humor. But as the book moves onto “Bipeds,” Pedersen addresses more serious subjects, particularly her Catholic upbringing in working-class Buffalo, N.Y., with a touch of irreverent humor (for today’s kids, “a cell phone is like a parole ankle bracelet”). Pedersen hits her stride when she moves to women, or “Estrogen-Americans” (a biological framing of gender some readers will object to), and the collection grows ever stronger from there. Religion, which plays a significant role throughout, is considered here in terms of the role women play in church life and whether there “are advantages to thinking God is watching.” In the last section, “Human Kind,” standouts include a perceptive essay on the “tsunami of choice” of modern consumer culture, a moving piece on 9/11, and musings on cooperating for the common good. Both thoughtful and irreverent, Pedersen’s writings shine an illuminating light on the complexities of human (and animal) nature. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 08/21/2020

Release date 09/01/2020