Clarissa Cruz
February 09, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

Critic and feminist bell hooks examines the emotion not from a scientific perspective but from a social and cultural one in all about love: new visions, a gracefully written volume that explores love by melding personal experience, quotations from Marianne Williamson and Thomas Merton, and discussions of pop-culture/news events like Monicagate.

Using her travails with ”dysfunctional” family members and turbulent romantic partners as a backdrop, she urges her readers to discard patriarchial paradigms and unhealthy relationship patterns. ”To know love we must surrender our attachment to sexist thinking,” she writes. ”[It] will always return us to gender conflict, a way of thinking about sex roles that diminishes females AND males.”

Although noble and thoughtful, the book’s suggestions don’t always jibe with reality. ”There would be no unemployment problem in our nation if our taxes subsidized schools where everyone could learn to love,” hooks attests. (Congress would probably beg to differ.) She also writes: ”Living and loving in community empowers us to meet strangers without fear.” (Unless, of course, they’re brick-wielding psychopaths.)

But simplistic love-school notions aside, her treatise offers a deeply personal and — in this age of chicken-soupy psychobabble — unabashedly honest view of relationships. And what’s not to love about that?

You May Like