An ambitious bio that may seem overlong to casual readers but will appeal to Wojnarowicz’s most fervent fans.

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FIRE IN THE BELLY

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DAVID WOJNAROWICZ

Former Village Voice arts reporter and columnist Carr (Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, A Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America, 2006, etc.) examines the life and art of provocative artist David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992), a star of the downtown New York art scene of the 1980s.

The author, who covered the arts during Wojnarowicz’s heyday and knew him personally, delivers the definitive biography of this complicated artist, from his troubled childhood to his untimely death from AIDS-related complications at the age of 37. After years of abuse as a child, he left home while still a teenager; for a time, he was homeless and prostituted himself to men in Times Square. Soon he became a Beat-influenced writer and quickly moved into visual arts, including painting, sculpture and photography, as part of an East Village–based art scene that included such notable figures as Keith Haring, performance artist Karen Finley and underground filmmaker Richard Kern. His controversial art, which portrayed such disturbing images as burning children, skeletons and disembodied heads, ambitiously addressed what he termed “the wall of illusion surrounding society and its structures.” His work took a more activist turn after the 1987 AIDS-related death of his close friend, photographer Peter Hujar, and his own AIDS diagnosis the following year. Carr conducted countless interviews with the artist’s surviving friends, family and acquaintances, and she provides a thoroughly researched picture of his life and times. While the author offers some intriguing insights about Wojnarowicz’s inner demons and his devotion to his art, the narrative is repetitive in parts—particularly when Carr relies on his journals, in which he worries constantly about loneliness and his difficulties revealing himself to others.

An ambitious bio that may seem overlong to casual readers but will appeal to Wojnarowicz’s most fervent fans.

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59691-533-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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

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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

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