A candid, unsettling family portrait of madness and enduring love.

DON'T GO CRAZY WITHOUT ME

A daughter grows up in the whirlwind of her overbearing father.

Once misdiagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, Lott (Creative Writing/Antioch Univ., Los Angeles; In Session: The Bond Between Women and Their Therapists, 1999) recounts growing up with a father whose craziness seemed infectious. “My father and I were not ordinary,” writes the author; “oh no, we had formed an alliance around being extraordinary.” In Lott’s noisily dysfunctional family, she and her father, Ira, bonded against her mother and brothers, who thought Ira was irritating, infuriating, and more than a little eccentric. Ira coveted his daughter’s attentions, making her his confidante, flattering her looks and talent. She was a genius, he insisted, and he would gain fame and fortune as the genius father of a child prodigy. Lott adored him, even when he treated her “like an adult playmate, like a collaborator.” She refused to see him as others did: a bizarre neurotic. Usually wearing nothing but underwear, Ira was a jokester, an exhibitionist, and a narcissist who hogged the center of attention. He was also a hypochondriac, intensely focused on what he thought were symptoms of dire diseases and hypersensitive “to any minor shift in the environment.” While Ira complained with “operatic intensity” about various physical ailments, the children strived to get their mother’s attention by complaining even more loudly: of severe allergic reactions, mysterious rashes, and rare strains of salmonella, despite Ira’s “relentless attempts to protect us from food poisoning.” Ira did have some serious health problems, including asthma, borderline diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity; through the years, he became addicted to painkillers and sleeping pills, supplied by “a sympathetic and equally addicted local pharmacist.” After his mother died, Ira descended into depression, refusing to shower, shave, get dressed, work, or eat anything but “soft foods suitable to a toddler’s palate.” He became obsessed with death and dying, and since Lott was viscerally in tune to his needs, she became obsessed, too, pushed almost to the brink of sanity.

A candid, unsettling family portrait of madness and enduring love.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59709-815-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Red Hen Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

more