A rare and refreshing tribute to a happy and wonderfully exuberant family.

LIFE AL DENTE

LAUGHTER AND LOVE IN AN ITALIAN-AMERICAN FAMILY

Italian-American Cascone (Mother’s Little Helper, 1986, etc.) pays affectionate tribute to her heritage as she recalls growing up among relatives determined to live life con brio.

In chapters that chronicle the various highlights of her youth, the author begins by recalling how her father adjusted to her being a girl. Though this successful lawyer had expected his firstborn to be a son, he soon decided that even a daughter should not grow up to be one of those “silly ladies.” He taught Cascone to stand up for herself, fight back when attacked, and never to back down. When the boys no longer allowed her to join their baseball games, her father taught her pool. Soon, to his delight, she was not only beating the local adolescent males but her father’s friends too. When a neighbor complained that Gina was playing pool for money, her mother initially forbid her to “hustle,” but upon learning that she was actually beating the men encouraged her to “clean them out.” Cascone recalls her reluctant move from their friendly city neighborhood to a big, new house in the less welcoming suburbs. Daddy sent her to a WASP prep school; her classmates ignored her until they saw her family at a school play and rumors began to circulate that they belonged to the Mafia. Cascone, deciding she might as well be a mob princess, played the role to the hilt. She recalls other memorable episodes: the Christmas her father resolved to have eels for dinner and stored them, alive, in the bathtub; their sentimental visit to Italy, where every meal seemed a celebration; her first encounter with the WASP Prince Charming she eventually married, though never sure whether it was her or the food that kept him coming back.

A rare and refreshing tribute to a happy and wonderfully exuberant family.

Pub Date: July 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-7434-5328-X

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2003

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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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