A potent addition to the literature on drug addiction and recovery.

THE WEIGHT OF AIR

A STORY OF THE LIES ABOUT ADDICTION AND THE TRUTH ABOUT RECOVERY

A journalist and activist recounts his years battling the opiates that helped quiet a lifelong, deep-running depression.

In this painful, haunting memoir, Poses takes us on a roller-coaster ride: bouts of heroin abuse mixed in with periods of sobriety, which will give readers hope for his prospects—only to have them dashed. Throughout, the author is a sympathetic guide to what it’s like to be addicted and seemingly hopeless. He is soulful, achingly honest, and often deadpan, portraying a battered innocence beset by a neurological illness, and he ably conveys his existential struggle: “Will my body ever learn to shut down without dope? Will my brain ever shut up?” Poses keenly expresses his gyroscope of emotions, showing a psyche that is seemingly never at peace. In one scene, the author sits at an airport bar, thinking about how he doesn’t like to drink alcohol. “If the bartender had said ‘We have morphine on intravenous drip, Percocet and Dilaudid pills, and transdermal fentanyl patches,’ I’d be high right now. I don’t know how else to feel okay in my own skin. And I don’t see God or AA changing that or helping me accept or forget it.” After college, the author took jobs in advertising and finance (he disliked both; he wanted to write) and then tumbled from the wagon once again. Poses vividly portrays the epic, agonizing pain of his withdrawals, most of which were spent “drenched in sweat and freezing cold, sitting on the toilet with my head in a plastic trash bin, a miasmic stew of shit and piss and puke.” Ultimately, some form of redemption arrives, and the author concludes with a concise, well-informed chapter on fundamental recovery, which “heals the wounds that led you to use drugs in the first place,” and the persistent problems associated with shame, poverty, and misinformation. Readers will cheer for Poses.

A potent addition to the literature on drug addiction and recovery.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-954861-99-2

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Sandra Jonas Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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