A colorful and illuminating memoir of a cabaret performer.

READ REVIEW

Paris Nights

MY YEAR AT THE MOULIN ROUGE

Simon recounts his time at the fabled Moulin Rouge in Paris and how it led to his career in Hollywood in this debut book.

After a varied life in South Africa, England, and the United States as a gymnast, elite swimmer, and member of the South African Air Force, Simon was working as a water sports teacher at a resort on the Indian Ocean when he was given the opportunity to perform at the world- renowned Moulin Rouge. The 26-year-old Simon was amazed by the beautiful chaos of the cabaret, with its dancers, jugglers, acrobats, and animal acts. As one of the performers informed Simon on his first day: “The Moulin Rouge is where every show dancer wants to end up....Once you’ve danced here, you have a golden ticket to anywhere else in the world.” Simon quickly descended into the madness of the theater and the strange characters who made their livings there. Equally exotic was the city that surrounded them: Paris in 1988 was a place of great beauty and great grit, filled with tantalizing women, bacchanals, street thugs, and enterprising criminals. Simon had the opportunity to rise from a replacement background dancer to a principal performer, a position that would prepare him for the even more competitive world of Hollywood. All Simon needed to do was to focus and to keep out of trouble, but at the Moulin Rouge, that was easier said than done. With the help of co-writer Stephens, Simon has shaped his anecdotes from the time into a very readable and entertaining memoir. Flecked with quotes and references to the many writers who were captivated by Paris before Simon, the volume manages to communicate the surreal atmosphere of the city and the even more surreal environment of the cabaret. The author is perhaps a bit overly impressed with his own youthful self, making sure the reader knows just how capable and desirable he was, but for those interested in the esoteric world of the Moulin Rouge, this is a book worth reading.

A colorful and illuminating memoir of a cabaret performer.

Pub Date: July 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-943848-92-8

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Waldorf Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

more