Although the book ends abruptly with saddened consideration of Garcia’s 1995 demise (without discussing the Dead’s influence...



What a Long, Strange Trip It Was: a comprehensive, thoughtful anthology depicting the phenomena and foibles encompassing the 30-odd year “unending tour” of the Grateful Dead.

Husband-and-wife editors Dodd (The Grateful Dead and Deadheads, not reviewed) and Spaulding shrewdly cast a wide net in addressing the Deadhead phenomenon, and the plurality of perspectives and information helps even neophytes understand the band’s tenacity in outlasting the Haight-Ashbury days, their development as an underground phenomenon, and their dedication to musical experimentation (as reflected in everything from idiosyncratic side projects to their obsession with live sound and encouragement of tape trading among their hardcore fans). Though these pieces do not dispel a conception of this Deadhead subculture as solipsistic and clubbish, there’s much fine writing here nonetheless. Key pieces include Tom Wolfe’s account of an early “Kool-Aid Acid Test,” essays on the Dead’s beginnings by pioneering pop journalist Ralph Gleason, and accounts of the 1970-era period (when it became evident the band had evolved beyond being a mere California rock group into something more unpredictably fluid) by Steve Silberman, George W.S. Trow, and novelist Ed McClanahan. While contributors like Silberman, Mary Eisenhart, and Blair Jackson are connected within the Dead organization (and, to their credit, find insiders’ insights), the rock critical establishment is represented by short, lively pieces from Robert Christgau and Richard Meltzer, as well as writers not associated with the Dead’s milieu (like screenwriter Charlie Haas and fiction writer Lee Abbott). Substantial interviews with key Dead members Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, and lyricist Robert Hunter also appear. While many pieces hew to depictions of the Dead-related lifestyle as an elaborate traveling utopia, fan-magazine editor Jackson portrays darker qualities in his 1990 depiction of a scene consumed by both overindulgence and undercover drug warriors looking for easy prosecutions.

Although the book ends abruptly with saddened consideration of Garcia’s 1995 demise (without discussing the Dead’s influence upon current cultish, touring “jam bands”), it remains a satisfying and thought-provoking compendium of countercultural commentary.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-19-512470-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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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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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.


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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