An autobiography that feels like a teaser to garner interest in a film adaptation, but it never delivers the full picture.

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What A Ride!

DiBello’s debut memoir assures readers that his life is the stuff that movies are made of.

The preface invites readers to “Tailgate along as you enjoy the fact-filled amazing true-life story of this incredible man.” The author writes about learning how to gamble as a kid, his Army years, making a fortune, talking with future ABC Sports president Roone Arledge about the creation of Monday Night Football long before it happened, spending time with Johnny Cash, and how Frank Sinatra once accidentally took a swing at him. Overall, the author appears to have lived an incredible life, and he writes in an engaging, conversational voice. The trouble is that this book only gives readers an outline of that life and never truly immerses them in the individual stories. In one tale, for example, the author tells of John, a chameleonlike sidekick of his other friend, Bob, and how John “posed as something or other” to help them get a deal in purchasing rights to “old soap opera radio stories.” John was to “do ‘his thing’ to seal the deal”; the author then says, “He did, we did, Bob plunked down a tidy sum.” This is offered as an example of the kinds of adventures that the author and Bob would get into, but it’s never specific enough to allow readers to truly envision the scene. The same goes for a section titled “Hero or Villain? Judge,” in which DiBello writes about serving in a “special” Army company designated for “screw-up[s] of any kind.” In the author’s description, the company was fraught with bullies trying to shake down weaker men for money. He cites a “melee” that broke out when some soldiers were rolling dice in an area where people were supposed to be giving haircuts, as the “haircut concession” and the “gambling concession” fought for the space. There are no details about who was involved or the results of that fight, however—just acknowledgment that it happened. Shortly afterward, the author says that he eventually helped bring the company and its captain down, and he asks readers to judge whether he was right to do so, but the stories are so vague that it will be hard for readers to make such a judgment. In a footnote, DiBello offers money to anyone who can provide more details about the company—with possibly more rewards if this book is ever made into a movie.

An autobiography that feels like a teaser to garner interest in a film adaptation, but it never delivers the full picture.   

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2015

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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