Brown's humor is pointed inward as often as outward, and he neither glosses over nor languishes on the fact that he has...

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SIXTY

A DIARY OF MY SIXTY-FIRST YEAR: THE BEGINNING OF THE END, OR THE END OF THE BEGINNING?

A journalist’s diary of age 60.

In 2014, Brown (The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son, 2011, etc.) arrived at one of the crossroads of life that even the most self-assured among us cannot help but eye warily. No longer a young man, nor even middle-aged, but on the cusp of “heading into the last turn, or for the back nine, or toward the clubhouse (someone should make a list of all the euphemisms we employ to denote the onset of aging),” the author looked back on a resolution he made at 50 to take note of the details around him and the processes unfolding within him. For 10 years, that resolution got lost in the daily shuffle of obligations. As 60 approached, he found a dearth of levelheaded explorations of that age. Displeased with the cheerleading of seniorhood as just another "new and ever-younger future,” an assessment that “mostly made me want to run shrieking from the room,” Brown found new motivation to try his hand at it. The subjects that find their ways into these pages aren't surprising: the author mulls over his own flagging ambitions as a writer, wondering where the drive to swing for the fences went and why he didn't harness it when it was active. He considers the writing of others—not just about aging, but also the importance of being present in one’s current environment. Conversations with lifelong friends often turned into the airing of the newest physical grievances. Young editors at the newspaper told him to develop his Twitter presence and build his list of followers on YouTube. His reactions reflect the knowledge of someone who understands technology well enough to acknowledge the shifting paradigms while also dismissing much of it as ridiculous. If that sounds cantankerous, the author is not.

Brown's humor is pointed inward as often as outward, and he neither glosses over nor languishes on the fact that he has fewer years ahead of him than behind.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61519-350-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: The Experiment

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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