Best for the discussions of his own work; worst for the gushing offered by some of his contributors.

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BAD BOY

MY LIFE ON AND OFF THE CANVAS

A celebrated contemporary American artist, now in his 60s, paints his life and offers a review.

Fischl, whose striking painting Bad Boy (1981) provides the title, teams up with veteran journalist Stone to tell the story of his unlikely discovery of his passion for art, his rise to celebrity in the 1980s and his adjustment—not always amiable—to the arrival of the next generation. Fischl begins with an epiphany occasioned by a 1986 traffic incident. He realized he had lost control of his life (booze, cocaine) and did not like “the miserable, belligerent guy I had become.” Time for a rebirth. But first he takes us back to his childhood, advancing swiftly to the mid-1960s, when he discovered that art was the only endeavor he wished to pursue. Throughout, Fischl surrenders pages to other players in his story—family members, friends and colleagues—and allows them to relate their version of events. It’s a novel strategy, but unfortunately, most of them just shower praise on the artist—it all grows rather cloying. Fischl describes his love affairs, his life with (and eventual marriage to) artist April Gornik, his screw-ups and triumphs and his relationships with fellow artists, dealers and buyers. He pauses continually to talk about his philosophy of art and specific works, describing their origin (he says he never knows what he’s going to do until he’s done it), their execution and their not-always-positive reception. His sculpture Tumbling Woman for 9/11 had a hostile reaction and was removed from its site. Generally generous and self-deprecating, he does attack some of his successors, among them Damien Hirst, whose work he calls “shallow.”

Best for the discussions of his own work; worst for the gushing offered by some of his contributors.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7704-3557-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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.

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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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