As Neil Gaiman writes in his foreword, “the Moth teaches us not to judge by appearances. It teaches us to listen. It reminds...

ALL THESE WONDERS

TRUE STORIES ABOUT FACING THE UNKNOWN

The Moth’s 20-year retrospective contains all the hope, sadness, triumphs, and tribulations that have defined the pioneering live reading series since its modest debut in 1997.

Devoted fans of The Moth Radio Hour know that the true stories told live onstage without notes in venues located throughout the world consistently pack an emotional wallop. It’s refreshing to see that those same stories are almost as powerful in print as they are in person. For instance, the story of a child soldier from Sierra Leone casually besting his New York City pals in a teenage game of paintball is almost as hilarious and heartbreaking as if author Ishmael Beah were in the room telling you the tale himself. Christof Koch’s stirring memoir about his time working with famed scientist Francis Crick right before his death is no less impactful on paper. Similarly, Nadia Bolz-Weber’s account of her life-changing experience on the road to Jericho ably conveys the intensity of the panic attack that taught her how to be vulnerable around her fellow travelers (“twenty Super-Nice Lutherans from Wisconsin”). Some stories—e.g., Tig Notaro’s “R2, Where Are You?”—do lose a little something being restricted to the page, but that likely has more to do with editing for space than a missed performance. Other stories, like Tomi Reichental’s absolutely shattering account of how she narrowly escaped death at the infamous Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, actually benefit from the buffer the written word provides. Other contributors include Louis C.K., Adam Mansbach, Jane Green, John Turturro, Jessi Klein, Meg Wolitzer, and Gil Reyes. Overall, the two decades of the Moth remain as entertaining and powerful off-stage as they were onstage.

As Neil Gaiman writes in his foreword, “the Moth teaches us not to judge by appearances. It teaches us to listen. It reminds us to empathize.” Here’s to at least 20 more years.

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-90440-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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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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