There’s really nothing like this oft-rapturous work in the canon of musical memoirs.

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SOUL MINING

A MUSICAL LIFE

The master musician and producer offers a typically idiosyncratic take on his life and art.

In a memorable chapter of his 2004 memoir Chronicles Volume One, Bob Dylan recounts his work on the 1989 album Oh Mercy—the collection that began his artistic rebirth—with Lanois. The gifted French Canadian guitarist and engineer has clearly taken a page from Dylan’s unusual look backward, crafting his own nonchronological and discursive autobiography. Born in Quebec, Lanois got hooked on making music and recording at an early age; by his teens, he and his brother Bob were running a studio in the family basement. The signal event of his career was hooking up with Brian Eno, the English producer-musician, whose instinctive methods had a marked impact on Lanois’ production style. The book takes a fly-on-the-wall look at many of the author’s most celebrated records—his several projects with U2, Dylan’s Oh Mercy and the Grammy-winning Time Out of Mind, Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball, Willie Nelson’s Teatro and his work on the soundtrack for Billy Bob Thornton’s breakthrough film, Sling Blade. Readers will savor the unique character of the producer’s unconventional technique, which often employs setting up a jerry-rigged studio with vintage gear in an exotic locale—a New Orleans apartment building, an abandoned movie house in central California. Lanois is a gearhead who can rhapsodize about the finer points of a recording console, a rare guitar or a classic motorcycle, but he never swamps his narrative by focusing on the technical. There is plenty of colorful material about his youth: a hitchhiking trip to Florida at the height of ’60s hippiedom, or his days slaving in Canadian show bands as an accompanist to exotic dancers. Like his own flavorful recordings and his best productions for others, Lanois’ book bursts with atmosphere and feeling. He is that rare breed, a lyrical technocrat, and he emerges from the work as one of music’s most unusual and charismatic figures.

There’s really nothing like this oft-rapturous work in the canon of musical memoirs.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-86547-984-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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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

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.

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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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