The author doesn’t pull punches, but all involved should find it fair as well as comprehensive.

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ONE WAY OUT

THE INSIDE HISTORY OF THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND

“I have viewed everything with the eyes and ears of a journalist but the heart and soul of a fan,” writes Guitar World senior writer Paul (Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing, 2011), who spent decades and hundreds of interviews earning the trust of musicians who didn’t always trust each other.

“The Allman Brothers Band, I believe, has no equal.” One need not share the author’s belief in the band’s supremacy to find its story engrossing. The majority of the book takes the form of oral history, which on other projects might sometimes seem slapdash and lazy but here proves crucial, for there are so many different perspectives—on everything from the band’s name to leadership and songwriting credits—that having dozens of different voices serves readers well. Nobody disagrees on the overwhelming talent, inspiration and legacy of guitarist Duane Allman, who formed the band, saw it coalesce into something special, and died recklessly and young before the music reached its popular peak. Explains one fellow musician, “Duane died just on the downstroke of the diving board, as the band was about to launch.” The loss of Duane and founding bassist Berry Oakley a year later would have brought an end to a less determined band, but the ABB somehow flourished despite a leadership void and decades of tensions exacerbated by drugs and alcohol. Perhaps the most complex relationship was between Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts, as the former was never considered an equal partner with his brother, and the latter resented the implications of the band’s name as he attempted to fill the guitar void and rule more by dictatorship than the universal respect Duane commanded. In the wake of Betts’ departure and Gregg’s sobriety, the responsibility has largely shifted to a new generation of guitarists, as the band improbably boasts its strongest dynamic since its original leader’s death.

The author doesn’t pull punches, but all involved should find it fair as well as comprehensive.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04049-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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