Return with us now to rock’s thrilling days of eye shadow and ostrich feathers.

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THE THRILL OF IT ALL

THE STORY OF BRYAN FERRY AND ROXY MUSIC

Glam-rock pacesetters and their angst-racked vocalist receive a thoughtful consideration.

This time out, Buckley, who has surveyed David Bowie in two books, takes on the legacy of the electrifying ’70s U.K. act Roxy Music. His focus is on front man Bryan Ferry, a working-class provincial who carried cool from Newcastle after an art school education. In 1970, he founded Roxy Music in London with Brian Eno—a nonmusician committed to flamboyant style, sonic extremism and arty theatrics—and a group of mainly unknown collaborators. With the release of its first album in 1972, the band became an instant sensation; its vital fusion of lyrical irony, campy visual style and envelope-pushing experimentalism led to a popularity rivaling that accorded Bowie and T. Rex’s Marc Bolan at the apex of rock’s glitter era. But Buckley, who considers the untutored group a harbinger of punk rock, maintains that Ferry’s early expulsion of chief provocateur Eno, along with the singer’s increasingly conservative and fussy approach in the studio, spelled the end of the group’s importance. The writer also notes that social striver Ferry’s metamorphosis into the kind of suave, moneyed toff he had initially mocked hastened a descent into virtual self-parody in a series of labored and hermetic group projects and solo albums. Ferry’s latter-day irrelevance is telegraphed by the fact that Buckley spends a mere 58 pages on the 23 years between the release of Roxy’s lustrous 1981 album Avalon and the present day. The Thrill of It All lacks much primary sourcing: the ever-wary Ferry sat for just one interview in 1999, and Buckley couldn’t corral Eno or such founding Roxy members as guitarist Phil Manzanera or saxophonist Andy McKay, who both played in the reunited 2001 touring lineup. But testimony from a chorus of sidemen and independent observers plus well-selected secondary material adds up to a compelling assessment of a prophetic and influential band.

Return with us now to rock’s thrilling days of eye shadow and ostrich feathers.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-55652-574-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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