October 21, 2020

#BookReview: Madame Clairevoyant’s Guide to the Stars: Astrology, Our Icons, and Our Selves by Claire Comstock-Gay

Synopsis: A soulful exploration of the twelve astrological signs embodied by our living “stars”—from divas to philosophers, poets to punks—and the ways they can help us better understand ourselves and each other, from the wildly popular astrology columnist for New York magazine’s The Cut.

Whether you believe in it or not, astrology’s job has never been to give us a preordained vision of the future, nor to sort us into twelve neat personality types, but to provide the tools and language for delving into our weirdest, best, most thorny contradictions, and for understanding ourselves and each other in our full complexity. The stars and the planets then are more like mirrors that show us who we are, that give us an understanding of how to be and how to move through the world; how certain people do it differently, and what we can learn by studying them.

In Madame Clairevoyant’s Guide to the Stars, Claire Comstock-Gay brings the sky down to Earth and points to our popular “stars”—from Aretha Franklin to Mr. Rogers, from poets in Cancer to punk singers in Scorpio—to reveal what the sky has to teach us about being human. In this wise, lyrically written guide, she examines the twelve astrological signs, illuminating the ways each one is more complicated, beautiful, and surprising than you might have been told. Claire suggests that actually it’s okay, and even important, to be a seeker, to hunger for self-knowledge, and if astrology is the vehicle for that inquiry, so be it.

Madame Clairevoyant’s Guide to the Stars offers a clear introduction to the basics and an innovative new framework for creatively using astrology to illuminate our lives on earth. It’s a road map to our internal world, yes, but Claire also reminds us that it’s still our job to navigate it. Combining both heavenly insights and the earthly wisdom of writers like Cheryl Strayed and Heather Havrilesky and the poetry of Patricia Lockwood and Mary Oliver, Madame Clairevoyant’s Guide to the Stars offers a fresh, profound, and fun way to look at ourselves and others, and perhaps see each more clearly. And in that way, this book is not just beautiful, but transformative.


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
My Review: This was a fairly interesting book on astrology etc.  I think it did a well overall account on how we look at it to define ourselves and what we should do with it.  


“Comstock-Gay is a luminous guide through the world of astrology. More so than the mathematically-minded manuals that I've paged through in learning about the heavens, her guide to the stars reads as a fascinating narrative, no matter what your sign. A fine, affirming study of humanity.” (Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias)

“Claire Comstock-Gay has 'wrested abundance from a stingy world,' giving us a book that is about both the fun of astrology and how it can be taken seriously, analyzing public figures as various as Cardi B, the Olsen Twins, Wislawa Szymborska, and Susan Sontag. Comstock-Gay complicates the simple archetypes that undergird our culture and our sense of ourselves and, with revelatory rigor, presents more productive ones.” (Alice Bolin, author of Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession)

"Not just a shimmering guide to our personal cosmologies written in precise and lucid prose, this book is also a devastating collection of cultural criticism essays cum meditations on the very nature of being alive." (Emma Copley Eisenberg, author of The Third Rainbow Girl)

"A fresh, profound, and fun way to look at all things astro while also making spot-on observations about your pop culture faves." (Cosmopolitan)

"Compulsively readable, both a balm and an inspiration. Claire’s own lived experience becomes a lens for the reader that begets an elegant, understated wisdom." (The Believer)

“Even before COVID-19 we lived in unpredictable times, and astrology layers an interpretative framework over the chaos of existence. But to its practitioners, astrology is more than just a pop culture phenomenon…. It was only when [Claire] learned about other aspects of her chart that she began to see astrology as capable of nuance and inflection rather than blunt, blanket assertions. Madame Clairevoyant’s Guide to the Stars takes a more thoughtful approach.” (Los Angeles Times)

About the Author

Claire Comstock-Gay has written horoscopes under the name “Madame Clairevoyant” since 2012—first for The Rumpus, then The Toast, and since 2016, for New York magazine’s The Cut. She has also written for the New York Times and has been featured on NPR’s On Point and Bitch Magazine’s Popaganda podcast. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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