A sometimes-amusing but uneven collection.

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I’M OK, YOU’RE A PAIN IN THE ASS...A LOVE STORY

A debut book of humorous, autobiographical essays from a self-described “doctor of comedy.” 

In this book, stand-up comic and occasional actor Chamberlain covers everything from his ongoing battle with his weight to his childhood memories of the 1954 giant-ant movie Them!, which he says terrified him. Chamberlain’s tales call to mind those of Jean Shepherd of A Christmas Story fame, and there are some funny lines here. For instance, he likens locating a parking spot in San Francisco to “finding a Super Bowl ticket in a box of Cracker Jack.” Indeed, the book tries to elicit a chuckle with almost every sentence—a pace that makes it feel more like a stand-up routine than a collection of essays. The book faces a big obstacle, though, in the fact that it’s in a hugely popular genre—one that’s been tackled by many better-known comedians. However, Chamberlain does have one advantage over such big names: his stories about life on the fringes of showbiz, which are his most effective chapters. Just reading the names of some of the lesser-known comedy clubs that once flourished around the country is amusing: “The Chuckle Hut,” “Ha Ha’s,” “Giggles.” So are his comments about working the murder mystery dinner theater circuit, and his tale of auditioning for a small role as a mental patient in the 1998 Robin Williams vehicle Patch Adams. More of these types of tales and fewer about other aspects of the author’s everyday life—such as an account of his father adjusting a TV antenna on the roof—would have worked to the book’s advantage. Also, there are inaccuracies in a few essays; the author says that The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) starred Lon Chaney when it actually starred Oliver Reed, and he renders Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly’s name as “Bill O’Rielly.”

A sometimes-amusing but uneven collection.

Pub Date: April 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9895734-4-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Quinn-Hill

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2017

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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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