A remarkable, well-told story of youth.

Up From Where We've Come

AN EVENTFUL JOURNEY

Wright describes his childhood in the cotton fields of Mississippi in this debut memoir.

The author, who fronted the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band, is best known for his hit 1970 funk song “Express Yourself,” which has been widely featured in movies and ad campaigns and provided the signature sample for the 1988 NWA song of the same name. Yet in this book, the first in a series of planned memoirs covering the entire course of his life, there’s almost no talk of music. Rather, it concerns his earliest years as one of 12 children born to an impoverished sharecropping couple in the Mississippi Delta. As a child in the 1940s, Wright worked beside his parents in the fields, “picking and chopping cotton sunup ’til sundown—WITHOUT ANY PAY!” The author claims that his memory stretches back to three months before he was born, and he displays a preternatural maturity in depicting the complex, often combative relationships between members of his family and the neighbors, fellow sharecroppers, and landowners that made up their hardscrabble community. The exploitative extremes of sharecropping are so troubling—and so reminiscent of depictions of slavery—that readers will find it almost inconceivable that such practices represented the status quo in some parts of the country as recently as the 1950s. This volume ends with Wright’s escape to Los Angeles, with a future of music and self-expression yet to come. Although the conclusion finds the author still in elementary school, readers will be left with the sense that the young Wright has already lived a lifetime. The book’s presentation is a little odd, with awkward formatting and a lot of stock photos. However, Wright is a highly adept storyteller with an excellent sense of detail and momentum. The overall reading experience is almost akin to sitting on the porch of a small, rickety farmhouse listening to the author spin yarn after yarn. “This is my story and most of it is one hundred percent true,” writes Wright, and in so doing he summons a whole host of American memoirists who’ve managed to transmute tragedy and fear.

A remarkable, well-told story of youth. 

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-578-16930-9

Page Count: 246

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more