Engaging reminiscences from an ebullient storyteller.



Friends, lovers, and a few celebrities form the author’s logical, though not biological, family.

Fans of Maupin’s stories of gay life in San Francisco (The Days of Anna Madrigal, 2014, etc.) will find some familiar themes in this warm memoir. The son of a racist, homophobic conservative, the author grew up hiding his homosexuality, knowing the “revulsion, shame, disbelief,” and rejection that he would face. Yearning to win his father’s love, he became a staunch conservative himself; as a college student in the 1960s, he “railed against Socialists and peaceniks,” defended segregation, and enthusiastically spoke out against “radical social agitators.” He went to law school to follow in his father’s footsteps but was so bored that he dropped out only to pursue another of his father’s dreams: to see him in the military. Maupin recalls with affection his stint in Vietnam, where he became chief of staff to a sympathetic commander. His father, “who always said that God created a war for every generation of men in our family,” felt proud. His parents worried about his determination to be a writer, just as they worried about their son’s “lifestyle” choice, which they could not confront. Maupin’s professional breakthrough came when the San Francisco Chronicle commissioned him to write a five-day-a-week series of stories featuring a motley, eccentric, and appealing collection of characters, gay and straight, young and old, living in the author’s adopted city. The first installment of “Tales of the City” appeared on May 24, 1976, and changed his life. “The public was hooked on ‘Tales’ before the year was out,” he recalls. Collections of the stories were published and eventually turned into a miniseries starring Laura Linney (a cherished member of Maupin’s logical family). Loving remembrances abound—not least of his compassionate mother—as the author celebrates the many people who enriched his life; most famous among them are Christopher Isherwood, Ian McKellen, and Rock Hudson, with whom Maupin became “buddies with occasional benefits.”

Engaging reminiscences from an ebullient storyteller.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-239122-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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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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