Most of this understated memoir recounts the author’s experiences and affection for his family, with some privileged...

TED AND I

A BROTHER'S MEMOIR

A warm recollection of a lauded poet.

Hughes and his younger siblings, Olwyn and Ted, grew up in a Yorkshire village, moving to the mining town of Mexborough when Ted was 8 and the author 18. As young children, the two boys shared a love of the outdoors, camping in the woods, hunting with air rifles and especially fishing. Ted followed his older brother around devotedly, constantly asking questions. In Mexborough, though, their paths diverged, with the author leaving school to work in the wholesale clothing business, as a trainee fitter at the Bessemer Steel Works and, after an injury, as an auto mechanic. Olwyn and Ted, meanwhile, excelled in grammar school, won scholarships and headed to university. After serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II, the author decided to begin training with the Nottingham City Police Force. Discouraged by poor food and housing, he decided to leave for Australia, seduced by a travel agent’s advertisement that read, “Come to the sun: migrate to Australia.” He settled there for the rest of his life. From 1948 until Ted’s death in 1998, the brothers saw each other only sporadically. Ted, of course, became famous for his poetry—he was poet laureate of England for 14 years—and his marriage to Sylvia Plath, which ended in her suicide. The author never met Plath, but he includes letters from his family describing their delight with her but also some concerns. Although Sylvia and Ted apparently were happy, they seemed not as “lively and cheery” as the author and his wife. Though he does not provide any analysis of his brother’s work, Hughes reprints some of Ted’s poems that have links to family experiences and notes works in his Collected Poems that are rooted in their childhood.

Most of this understated memoir recounts the author’s experiences and affection for his family, with some privileged glimpses into Ted’s life.

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1250045270

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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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

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