Wareham may not demonstrate the sharpest narrative focus, but his memoir is refreshingly confident and unsentimental in its...




Indie-rock icon recalls life in the studio and on the road.

Wareham begins with a chronicle of his childhood and early adult life. Born in New Zealand, his family moved to New York City in 1977. While attending the exclusive Dalton School, he frequented CBGB’s, Irving Plaza, the Palladium and other venues, catching performances by the Clash, the Talking Heads, the Ramones, Pere Ubu, Television and many others. In 1981, Wareham enrolled at Harvard and soon after started his first band, Speedy and the Castanets: “[We] sucked. We were clueless and talentless. And yet we felt we were the only interesting band on campus. So what if we couldn’t play? If nothing else, we had our arrogance.” Such sentiment colors most of the narrative, as the author offers frequent asides about music, philosophy and the art of performance—some enlightening, others trite, but all unflinchingly honest. On a particularly poor Bob Dylan show: “He had that dolt GE Smith on guitar. GE Smith was the bandleader on Saturday Night Live, and he was best known for making too many rock faces. Maybe his playing would be tolerable if he put a paper bag over his head.” While living in Boston in the early ’80s, guitarist and singer Wareham founded Galaxie 500 with two friends. The band toiled in the small-club scene for a few years and then gradually built a loyal fan base touring across the United States and playing a few international rock festivals, including the Glastonbury Festival in England and Roskilde in Denmark. Though Galaxie 500 eventually developed a cult following, Wareham quit in 1991 and went on to found Luna, the band for which he would become best known. After releasing Lunapark, the band embarked on their first tour, landing an opening slot for the Screaming Trees. A second album, Bewitched, followed, but it was their third album, Penthouse, on which “Luna really hit its stride musically…we had learned to appreciate the subtleties of one another’s playing.” The author provides a highly detailed, if occasionally scattershot, account of his life—including the addition of bassist Britta Phillips (“the best visible panty line in rock”), with whom the author had an affair, then eventually married—and he tosses in enough pointed musical and cultural commentary to satisfy even the most jaded rock-bio fan.

Wareham may not demonstrate the sharpest narrative focus, but his memoir is refreshingly confident and unsentimental in its exploration of life in the indie-rock trenches.

Pub Date: March 17, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59420-155-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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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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