Boxing fans should enjoy the author’s close encounters with the likes of Tyson, Toney, and De La Hoya.

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DARK TRADE

LOST IN BOXING

A sportswriter takes a deep dive into the “brutal but strangely beautiful world” of boxing.

McRae (A Man’s World, 2015, etc.) was smitten with boxing as a youngster in his native South Africa when he saw a newsreel that showed Muhammad Ali “destroying Cleveland Williams” in a 1966 fight “with a speed that made the savagery look lustrous on monochrome film.” As a sportswriter, he got to indulge his obsession up close, attending matches and interviewing fighters while traveling across the U.S. for five years. At least for fans of the sport, his illuminating book exploring this fierce world may rival the works of such famed boxing writers as Bert Sugar, Norman Mailer, and A.J. Liebling. The athletes McRae has followed, he writes, “are all men who have dreamed that they might one day be as great as...Muhammad Ali.” The author skillfully describes his boxing-related adventures of the 1990s in 15 action-packed chapters, devoting particular attention to such legendary fighters as Mike Tyson, James Toney, and Oscar De La Hoya. Much about Tyson exudes menace—in their first encounter, McRae recalls, he “moved toward me, reminding me of a giant hammerhead swerving in for the kill.” But the author deftly finds the pathos of the former heavyweight champion, noting that “his whole life had been chiseled from themes of loss and deceit.” De La Hoya appeared to be cut from a wholesome cloth but “beneath the glitter, it was easy to sense the strain. His rich stardom was muddied by loss and distrust.” At the heart of this engaging and eloquent work, though, is McRae and his intriguing attempts to explain his “seemingly illogical but enduring love” of boxing. An 11th-round knockout punch that turned “defeat into stunning victory” has a strong effect on him: “When else as an adult, if not in sex or sleep, had I been so beyond the mundane?” The serious, and even fatal, brain injuries suffered by boxers in the ring give him reason to pause, but “for those of us still lost in the maze, there is always another fighter to follow. A new version of an ancient story is always waiting to be told.”

Boxing fans should enjoy the author’s close encounters with the likes of Tyson, Toney, and De La Hoya.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949590-05-0

Page Count: 537

Publisher: Hamilcar Publications

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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