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Shelf Help: this week's book review - The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

November 11th 2016 / Alecka Micklewright

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In his latest book, the award-winning British artist explores modern masculinity and asks whether we need to rethink what it means to be a man

Since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States back in June 2015, you only had to turn on the television or check your Twitter account to bear witness to the latest in a string of egocentric comments from the big alpha male…THE Donald. “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.” Now that man is poised to be the leader of the free world. No wonder masculinity is in crisis.

Men, according to Grayson Perry in his new book The Descent of Man, are in trouble and it’s never been a more difficult or confusing time to be male. The artist and writer, probably best known for his cross-dressing alter ego 'Claire', explores how masculinity is very much learned and the increasing pressure of the male role in a modern day context. If you enjoyed Perry’s series on Channel 4 All Man, this is very much an extension of that theme.

I find Perry deeply fascinating. When I have watched him on his various TV shows, I’ve seen how he is able to disarm his male subject whether it be the typical city trader, the cage fighter or even a gang member. In his books, he writes genuinely but with compassion for his fellow male in crisis. With suicide being the leading cause of death for men under 50, never has there been a better time to open up this conversation about outdated gender stereotypes and pave the way for a new male figure in our lives.

The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry £11.89 is published by Penguin Books, available on audiobook (narrated by Jonny Philips) from Audible here

Check out our Shelf Help book review slot every Friday on Get The Gloss .


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