Walking The Crooked Path

Using clever commentary and realistic reassurance, King’s comforting memoir details his struggle with early-onset Parkinson’s disease.
Squirming in a doctor’s chair, convinced nothing is wrong with him, King sees the problem arrive in a storm of immediacy and doubt. His doctor informs him that, due to symptoms of aching, stiffness and limping, he is likely in the beginning stages of early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Stubborn and opinionated, King is almost insulted by the diagnosis. He desperately attempts to reason with his doctor: “[B]ut I’m too young for Parkinson’s….[I]t’s only on one side,” he says. “I don’t shake all that much.” As the memoir continues, readers are exposed to the idiosyncrasies, past and present, that have built his distinctive outer toughness and inner insecurity. King the author develops a strong portrait of King the protagonist, testing his strength of character against the traumas of a strenuous, sometimes-impossible coping process. The details of his childhood, military career and marriage portray a complex array of emotions that move the reader through the distress of Parkinson’s and the effect it has on his life. Despite the subject matter, however, the outlook isn’t bleak. The author balances the strife of deterioration, both mental and physical, with sharp wit and dry sarcasm: “ ‘executive dysfunction’…it sounds like a bad quote from a Dilbert cartoon, it’s related to the ability to multitask, to think abstractly, to remember and apply facts, and to interpret motivations and read situations effectively.” This harmonious balance gives the narrative an ultimately positive outlook, lightening the intense subject matter. The memoir outlines the achievements and disappointments of the coping process, assuring readers that no process works the same for everyone and that the ultimate medicines are love and support from one’s family. The text can be repetitive in parts, and certain digressions into back story—particularly the sections about his time in the military—slow the narrative’s momentum. Yet as a whole, King’s story is humbling and inspiring, sparkling with honesty, humor and faith.
An engrossing, informative read for anyone intrigued by the concept of finding peace and happiness while in the grips of terminal illness.

Pub Date: April 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500228422

Page Count: 110

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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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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