At the top of the half-dozen books recently published on Bears Ears and a pleasure for travelers in the Southwest.

THE BEARS EARS

A HUMAN HISTORY OF AMERICA'S MOST ENDANGERED WILDERNESS

The popular historian and explorer of the Southwest digs deep into the secrets of a remote slice of the American wilderness.

Roberts begins his narrative journey at a high place called Cedar Mesa, the epicenter of the geological and geographical complex of plateaus, canyons, and mountains gathered under the rubric of the Bears Ears National Monument. “All of these landscapes,” he writes, “are virtually uninhabited today but incredibly rich in antiquities.” They have also been the locale for busy generations of “pothunters,” whose illegal gathering of archaeological materials has removed those things from their context. The author, who for some reason continues to use the now-discredited term Anasazi for the ancient peoples of the region, delivers a fluent, anecdotal history that includes accounts of his own travels. The narrative encompasses the sometimes-intersecting lives of figures like Edward Abbey and Zane Grey on the literary front and the likes of Butch Cassidy and an anti-government activist son of Cliven Bundy’s on the criminal edge. Roberts’ own travels sometimes got him into trouble, as when, out in a remote corner of the monument, he encountered a Navajo man who threatened him with violence for trespassing on Native land even though another Navajo had given him permission to be there. The author is strong on both history and anthropology, aware of the most recent theories on such matters as Navajo origins. “Among southwestern Athapaskans, only the Navajo and the Western Apache have clans,” he notes, lending credence to the emerging thought that those migratory peoples might have absorbed some of the original inhabitants. Like Craig Childs’ kindred (though more poetic) book House of Rain (2007), Roberts’ latest combines research, journalism, and memoir in a satisfying whole that will please fans of his earlier books of both travel in wild places and key moments in Native American history.

At the top of the half-dozen books recently published on Bears Ears and a pleasure for travelers in the Southwest.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00481-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

F*CK IT, I'LL START TOMORROW

The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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