An education in empathy as well as a reality check.

READ REVIEW

SELLING BEN CHEEVER

BACK TO SQUARE ONE IN A SERVICE ECONOMY

Putting down his pen and taking a series of jobs in the tag end of the service economy, novelist Cheever (Famous After Death, 1999, etc.) finds a host of sad and funny stories.

From the outset, the author makes it clear that his economic survival was never at stake; his wife, New York Times critic Janet Maslin, made (and makes) a good income. But he too wanted to earn a living and have a place to go in the morning; at the time (1995), his novels were selling poorly and his latest manuscript was not exactly being celebrated. So he wrote a proposal for a nonfiction book about downsizing while working at unskilled jobs—the only ones open to a writer with zero real-world qualifications. All of the work Cheever found incarnated the downward mobility that clutches at the belly of the white-collar salaryman: deli worker, security guard, Santa Claus, car dealer. Many of his fellow employees were people who had been fired, dusted themselves off, and climbed poor and vulnerable into the ring of the service sector. Although he brings a healthy dose of humor to his chronicle of job-hunting and job-holding, Cheever nonetheless offers a morality tale as impassioned as Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickle and Dimed (p. 475). It comes as no surprise that he finds lots of nobility in the service ranks, plenty of grace under fire, unexpected artistry, and a measure of rage at CEO salaries; it’s also expected that the worker will be given the shabbiest of treatment in the service economy’s dystopia. What is surprising, and galling, is the everyday humiliation Cheever experiences at the hands of the customer. The boss may be slime, but on the other side of the counter likely stands someone who doesn’t even recognize your existence.

An education in empathy as well as a reality check.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58234-158-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more