The book, unlike the movie it describes, struggles at times to balance a tone of charming over cheesy. But Elwes’ case—that...

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INCONCEIVABLE TALES FROM THE MAKING OF THE PRINCESS BRIDE

With the assistance of Layden (The Ghost Horse: A True Story of Love, Death, and Redemption, 2013, etc.), Elwes shares tales of the making of the 1987 film The Princess Bride, in which he starred in the role of Westley.

By the time Rob Reiner and his producing partner Andy Scheinman decided to make a film version of William Goldman’s book, Goldman’s screenplay adaptation had become legendary in Hollywood as an unproduced script. Robert Redford, Norman Jewison and even Francois Truffaut had all tried and failed to get the movie past development stages. Elwes gives a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie and theorizes on how an infamously unproducible script became a cult classic. The book is driven by the author’s thoughts and memories but is complemented by rich quotes featured in pop-out text boxes from Reiner, Scheinman, Goldman and other stars of the film, including Christopher Guest, Robin Wright and Billy Crystal. Elwes’ description of how Reiner’s simple stage directions helped achieve his tongue-in-check vision, or Scheinman’s thoughts on how today’s special effects may have overwhelmed and ruined the gently satirical tone of the movie, are interesting from a broad cinematic perspective. But the book is intended less for film aficionados than simply for lovers of this specific movie. As a rookie star in his first big production, Elwes often felt “like a kid at theater camp who has been suddenly plucked from the ranks of the ordinary and tossed onto a Broadway stage,” and while his observations ooze with positivity, they come across as genuine.

The book, unlike the movie it describes, struggles at times to balance a tone of charming over cheesy. But Elwes’ case—that the film has endured because it was made with a lot of heart—is made persuasively enough that readers will entertain the sentiment even if they aren’t totally convinced by it.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1476764023

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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