A welcome new look at Dos Passos and another sad chapter in the life of Hemingway.



The story of the close yet volatile friendship between John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway.

Biographies, volumes of letters, and memoirs have thoroughly, and repeatedly, revealed the quality of Hemingway’s relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, and Sara and Gerald Murphy, among others: friendships that Hemingway viciously ended. “By 1936,” writes biographer Morris (Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press, 2015, etc.), “Hemingway’s list of lost friends was lengthy.” Morris adds to that list novelist and journalist Dos Passos, whom Hemingway valued for many years—until he did not. Morris’ lively biography of their relationship offers a fresh view of Dos Passos, drawn from published and archival sources, but adds little to the portrait of Hemingway already well established: his love affair with a nurse who tended him during World War I, marriage to Hadley Richardson and early years in Paris, his early fame with The Sun Also Rises, his belligerent competitiveness, betrayals, life in Key West and Havana, and his suicide. The two men could not have been more different: Dos Passos, a friend recalled, was “so shy that he seems cold as an empty cellar with the door locked when you meet him.” Hemingway was brash and gregarious; Dos Passos, irritatingly prickly, “hated small talk.” Dos Passos, politically engaged, actively protested injustice and oppression; Hemingway ignored politics until the Spanish Civil War. They met briefly as ambulance drivers in 1917, but their friendship began later, when both were at the starts of their careers. Besides drinking and socializing, they became trusted readers of each other’s work. Hemingway gratefully called Dos Passos his “most bitterly severe critic.” Inevitably, though, their friendship devolved. Morris cites “a deep and fundamental difference” in their perception of war, but he portrays Hemingway as so mean, vengeful, and threatened by any other writer’s success that their friendship could not have been anything but doomed.

A welcome new look at Dos Passos and another sad chapter in the life of Hemingway.

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-306-82383-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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 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...


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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