If Richard MacDonald's book Nasty Astrology offers any evidence, MacDonald hates everyone, but at least he hates everyone equally. MacDonald shish-kabobs more than he skewers each of the twelve sun signs of Western astrology: with an assortment of well known faults, he stacks a complaint log that a small-town police blotter near Roswell might envy. When it comes to the sniping, MacDonald keeps it in style: he admonishes readers not to check the charges filed on their own sun-signs. This begs the question of whether he wrote the chapter on his own sun sign while wearing a blindfold, and how a book reviewer can do a thorough job less complete knowledge. Fortunately, MacDonald fears telling any Scorpio what to do – or what not to do, so this review is of a book read in its entirety from an admittedly psychotic perspective.

Written in the same spirit as Adele Lang’s How to Spot a Bastard by His Star Sign, Nasty Astrology bitches and quips its way through the zodiac like a gossip at a cocktail mixer, from time to time exaggerating its own significance. Macdonald falls short of his claim that he plies the only book that offers a send-up of the negative aspects of astrology. There are some heavyweights in the ring that knock Nasty flat: books that deep-dive into the negative traits inherent in a sun-sign all the while challenging their readers to rise above the horizon of their celestial limitations. Still, if a non-astrologically initiated reader needs to know that the average Scorpio terrifies or that Virgos alphabetize both socks and vitamins, Nasty Astrology does the job. MacDonald succeeds in his mission to liven up the astrological shelf, but he’s hardly the Deep Throat of the zodiac’s dirty secrets. He has yet to offer a money-trail, or at least, what style of astrology, whether sidereal or surreal, that he used to bring him to his conclusions.

This purse-size diatribe on the personas of the stars promises to smash the ice at a party, to give breakthroughs on breakups and to relieve PMS with a satisfaction level second only to cheap chocolates and expensive booze. This farcical nonfiction offers nothing of redeeming moral value and thus lives up to, and even exceeds, its expectations beautifully. Nasty Astrology has no desire to gather dust while mugging serious cardboard next to the astrology reference books; this book belongs somewhere between cocktail napkins and martini glasses. Were MacDonald to go obsessive and take on a genuinely complete nasty astrology, he would need a minimum of twelve to the twelfth power chapters to cover the gigantic permutations and combinations that can form a person's star chart. As an astrologer, he knows that complete simply isn’t possible on the overarching themes of astrology, even with a strict focus on negative traits. But for a strictly surface look, he skims the scum right off the shallow end of the astrological pool, and holds up the net for his readers to take a nice, close look.


~ review by Diana Rajchel

by Richard MacDonald

Collins and Brown,

pp. 96, $9.95