Vintage Manguel—a pleasure for his many readers and admirers.

PACKING MY LIBRARY

AN ELEGY AND TEN DIGRESSIONS

The archbibliophile writes nostalgically of his “last library,” the most recent of a succession of collections that have defined him over a lifetime.

Now director of the National Library in his native Argentina, a post formerly held by Jorge Luis Borges, Manguel (Curiosity, 2015, etc.) professes to a certain discomfort at public libraries: he values the materiality of having one’s own books in which there is no guilt taken in writing in the margins. He wholly endorses Petrarch’s observation, “I feel that I have never enough books.” Departing from Walter Benjamin’s famed essay on “unpacking the library,” Manguel writes of the heartbreaking challenge of boxing up the 35,000 volumes he housed in the Loire Valley of France, “a fantastic creature made up of the several libraries built up and then abandoned, over and over again, throughout my life.” Benjamin had to abandon his own library under more fraught circumstances, a step ahead of the Nazis, but that does not diminish the elegiac quality of Manguel’s slender book, made up of a main essay punctuated by 10 “digressions” that take in love of the book among peoples of the book, Shakespeare, Callimachus, and other tropes of bibliophilia and bibliomania. Borges figures, of course, and his spirit is always close to the main text as well, especially as Manguel takes up residence in the library in Buenos Aires and finds himself not just the book lover and writer of old, but also “accountant, technician, lawyer, architect, electrician, psychologist, diplomat, sociologist, specialist in union politics, technocrat, cultural programmer, and, of course, administrator of actual library matters.” Add philosopher to that list, for the author closes with a meditation on what books have to say about how our lives are lived and governed, with a reminder that they “are reminders of better things, of hope and consolation and compassion.” The tropes are well-worn, but the author brings a fresh hopefulness to the enterprise of books and reading.

Vintage Manguel—a pleasure for his many readers and admirers.

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-300-21933-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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