Great fun, especially for anyone facing the Big 3-0.

FRIENDS LIKE THESE

MY WORLDWIDE QUEST TO FIND MY BEST CHILDHOOD FRIENDS, KNOCK ON THEIR DOORS, AND ASK THEM TO COME OUT AND PLAY

A British writer and broadcaster turns the familiar angst of approaching age 30 into a diverting adventure.

Wallace, whose previous book (Yes Man, 2005, etc.) inspired the recent Jim Carrey movie, recounts his summer-long attempt to find a dozen old school friends to see how they were faring as they were leaving their 20s. Prompted by the lawnmowers, lattes and other “evidence of impending adulthood” encountered after his move from the East End to upscale North London, the author used an old address book and the Internet to track down and visit long-lost buddies in Los Angeles, Melbourne, Berlin, Tokyo and London. Though the narrative is sometimes overblown and meandering, Wallace has an upbeat style and an eye for bright anecdotes as he writes about others in his Generation X group who grew up in Scotland and the Midlands, enamored of video games, Michael Jackson and Back to the Future. There is Anil Tailor, now an architect, with whom the author once sat reading comics under “the magic tree”; Cameron Dewa, a London IT specialist and third in line to the throne of Fiji; and Akira Matsui, a Japanese medical doctor who jokes about the day a mutual childhood friend did the crane kick from The Karate Kid on his head. Along with a Berlin rapper, a British restaurant manager who has mastered time travel and others, his friends are finding their way, beginning marriages and careers, and react with delight at Wallace’s often-surprise visit. When not describing aspects of his search, the author recalls hilarious bygone moments, from playing phone pranks to delivering newspapers to a Mr. Shitler. “I’m a child!” he tells his patient wife, Lizzie, who agrees to his sojourn in return for his doing household chores. But all is not lighthearted—one old friend, he learns, died at 18. Reflecting on his rite-of-passage travels, Wallace concludes, “Yeah, we all grow up. We all get busy. But we all need friends.”

Great fun, especially for anyone facing the Big 3-0.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-04277-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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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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