A moving, educative memoir from one of the innovators of the gay liberation movement.

RAINBOW WARRIOR

MY LIFE IN COLOR

The audacious life and work of the designer of the symbolic rainbow flag.

Gay rights advocate Baker (1951-2017) passionately charts his rise to prominence from a stifling Methodist childhood in 1950s Kansas, where he secretly danced in his aunt’s old prom dress and became conflicted about his burgeoning homosexuality and obsession with art. Drafted into the Army at 19, he endured a harrowing two-year stint but landed securely in San Francisco at the dawn of the gay rights movement, a sure sign of things to come. Baker writes briskly and amiably about making fast friends and becoming an activist promoting “lavender tolerance and social acceptance.” Though sewing projects kept him busy, he envisioned creating something to replace the pink triangle as the symbol of gay visibility and diversity. Thus, the rainbow flag was born, “a visual metaphor and an active proclamation of power, created and dedicated to gay and lesbian liberation,” and was displayed during Gay Freedom Day on June 25, 1978. Through the darkness of the Jonestown massacre, Harvey Milk’s assassination, and Ronald Reagan’s problematic presidency, Baker and his friends persevered, proudly continuing their dedication to promoting tolerance. His urban activism continued with the charitable Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a politically charged organization focused on exposing religious homophobia and sexual oppression. The AIDS epidemic further darkened the atmosphere, and the author vividly illustrates the deadly struggle to survive both the wrath of a mysterious killer and the political unrest that continued to plague gay America. Baker’s legacy as a creative designer and a staunch advocate intertwined when he worked on the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt with fellow activist Cleve Jones as well as the creation of the epic mile-long rainbow flag that stretched across the streets of Manhattan for the Stonewall 25 commemoration in 1994. Baker’s rainbow flag legacy lives on not only as a key emblematic component during pride celebrations worldwide, but in everyday discourse about the compassionate and unconditional nature of the community it represents and defends.

A moving, educative memoir from one of the innovators of the gay liberation movement.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64160-150-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: March 24, 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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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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