A smartly written and revelatory reexamination of readers’ most intimate experiences.

THE ART OF RECEIVING AND GIVING

THE WHEEL OF CONSENT

A guide offers a new, comprehensive evaluation of the concept and practice of consent.

In this sweeping reappraisal of the whole world of giving and receiving, of touching and being touched, Martin attempts to undercut and offset readers’ long-standing assumptions by posing a disarmingly simple question they should ask others: “How do you want me to touch you?” In the author’s extensive experience interviewing people as a sex educator, she often finds that this question causes confusion. “The most common thing that happened when people made this offer was that they forgot they could set limits or say no,” she writes. “They sometimes assumed that they had to do whatever their partner asked of them.” Martin draws her readers’ attention to their own poor training by society in this very question of regulating and experiencing touch and contact. She points to the fact that people are trained early in childhood to suppress their ownership of their physical actions: clean your plate (even if you’re not hungry); let grandma kiss you (even if you don’t want her to). She contends that most people extend this deficient training into their adult lives: “Not only do we go along with something, we often try to make ourselves like it more.” To break this momentum, she proposes not only the simple question “How do you want me to touch you?” but also its follow-up: “How do you want to touch me?” These principles are further elaborated throughout the book.

Martin, who founded the School of Consent in 2018, repeatedly makes it clear that the clarifying concepts she’s outlining will at first seem peculiar to her readers. They will challenge them, she asserts: “Long-held assumptions will crack open, and there will be insights that shake you up.” She elaborates on the four “quadrants” of giving and receiving touch—“the Serving Quadrant,” “the Taking,” “the Accepting,” and “the Allowing”—and their permutations (are you touching someone for your pleasure or theirs? Are you allowing yourself to be touched for your pleasure or theirs?). And she continuously reassures her readers that this fundamental realignment of old reflexes will be challenging: “It tends to feel odd, sometimes foreign, occasionally impossible, but when it clicks, there is often a feeling of relief and of recovering something you had lost.” She compensates for this strangeness with, among other things, a marvelously open and welcoming prose style, clearly breaking down her concepts in order to help her readers construct a new idea of what touching is—and, by extension, sex and all issues of consent. She stresses that the instructions she’s explaining are in fact extremely simple—the hardest part for many of her clients is merely taking them seriously enough to practice them. Admittedly, many readers will need this encouragement; despite the clarity of the author’s prose, her explanations can often feel jarringly alien. Surely, some readers will think, there are aspects of interpersonal touching that are basically instinctual; surely, it can seem oddly artificial to dissect every aspect of touching so analytically. The implicit response of Martin’s valuable book, written with Dalzen, is simple: Readers can—and must—do more than just follow their instincts.

A smartly written and revelatory reexamination of readers’ most intimate experiences.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64-388308-3

Page Count: 422

Publisher: Luminare Press

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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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 conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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