A largely resonant, darkly comic remembrance that embodies the struggle between pursuing reliable employment and devoting...




The author explores the white-and blue-collar job markets while also trying to find fulfilling employment as a writer in this debut memoir.

It’s said that if you love what you do, then you’ll never work a day in your life. By that yardstick, Driver has spent most of his adult life hard at work. This lively, albeit sometimes-digressive, memoir offers “bits and pieces of a working life, job-related stories, lessons and misadventures of an aspiring writer…trapped in the life of a barn-hauling truck driver” in the South. It’s studded with pop-culture references, scholarly footnotes, cogent quotes from authors with whom Driver feels a kinship (Henry David Thoreau, Barbara Ehrenreich, Studs Terkel), personal photos, and illustrations by his wife, Tarri Driver. The author draws a distinction between a mere job and meaningful work, but this isn’t a screed of millennial entitlement; he credits his grandfather with imparting the value of a strong work ethic (“He showed me what it felt like to be satisfied by a job well done”). His fraught, often-bumpy journey will strike a chord with many readers—especially college graduates who have labored under the impression that their degrees would, for want of a better phrase, pay off. Driver laments, “A hell of a lot of good a Master of Arts degree in English does when your job is to deliver portable storage barns from a truck in the middle of nowhere.” Overall, he walks a fine line in this book; he’s grateful for the work that enables him to pay his bills, despite feeling defeated that he’s unable to make his education work for him, but at the same time, he’s cognizant of the millions of people who “struggle every day at crap jobs that pay next-to-nothing because it is the only option they have.” However, in describing the colorful characters he encounters and recreating their Southern-fried patois, he comes perilously close to caricature (“Sorry bout all ‘at chicken shit over thar, but that’s wore I need it tuh set”), and his habit of jumping from present to past jobs and back again robs the book of some momentum.

A largely resonant, darkly comic remembrance that embodies the struggle between pursuing reliable employment and devoting oneself to one’s passions.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63505-034-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: Mill City Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

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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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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

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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