Drivel about a driveler.

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HAROLD ROBBINS

THE MAN WHO INVENTED SEX

The superficial life of the superficial author of all those superficial, lubricious and extraordinarily popular sleaze-fests of the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, when ghost writers replaced the dying doyen of the “dirty novel.”

Wilson (Beautiful Shadow: The Life of Patricia Highsmith, 2003, etc.), hasn’t come up with much here. From an early age, Harold Robbins (born Rubin) gleefully lied about his life, inventing episodes and characters as facilely as he did later at his typewriter. So his biographer was forced to look at public records like census data and high-school attendance sheets, to conduct interviews with survivors (neither of Robbins’ two daughters offers much here) and to wax creative. For example, Wilson begins each chapter with a Robbinsian passage along the lines of “next to having sex, driving a cool car was one of the greatest pleasures of his life” and generally ends with a brisk, “keep-on-reading” sentence such as “but even fiercer sex and censorship battles lay ahead.” This ludic silliness aside, Wilson settles for skating along the admittedly high-gloss surface of Robbins’ life. Yes, his was a Horatio Alger–style tale; Robbins actually rose from stock boy to pen The Carpetbaggers and other lucrative titles. And, yes, the text makes it patent—and ultimately rather dull—that Robbins liked sex. Lots of it. Wilson tries hard to establish that it was women the author liked, not the services they provided, but after witnessing some of Robbins’ escapades and “preferences” (prostate massages are among the milder ones), readers may well want to head for the shower. The man could sell books, though: 750 million or so, which for a while provided him with villas, yachts, fast cars and fast lanes and accommodating (young) women. Massive debts and a wheelchair, however, were his ultimate fate.

Drivel about a driveler.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59691-008-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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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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