A poignant and engaging account that features some pithy advice delivered with strength and panache.

SAY WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID

In her second memoir, a writer shares her commitment to appreciating each moment, a philosophy strengthened when she returns to New York state to be near her dying father.

Independent, passionate about all things outdoorsy, and devoted to family and friends, Wheeler embraced life’s opportunities and setbacks, determined to have no regrets. Her “Friend Basket” was filled with a diverse assortment of people from around the country with whom she was close. And she was always open to adding someone new. After living out west for about 25 years, Wheeler decided she was ready to shake things up. She sold her catering business in Colorado and headed east: “After a couple of successful careers and not-as-successful relationships that ended, my curvy path led back to the state I grew up in.” That is not where she had intended to land. First, she went to the Florida Keys. New friends and intriguing possibilities kept her on the move. But when her father’s progressive supranuclear palsy, a degenerative disease with neither a cure nor a meaningful treatment, seriously compromised his physical condition, she knew she had to be with him for however much time he had left. She moved into her brother’s house in upstate New York, one mile from where her father and stepmother lived. Wheeler’s time frame vacillates, which sometimes makes it difficult for readers to follow the linear trajectory of her life. But this is a minor complaint. Each vignette or chapter, some as short as a few paragraphs, immerses readers in the emotions of the experience, whether it’s riding the rapids or sitting with her father in a nursing home. Her prose is at once eloquent and conversational; both sharp and gently humorous. There is a fierceness in her important rule—don’t leave until tomorrow what can be said today. The chance may not come again. Despite her obvious grief and anger over watching her father waste away, she was demonstrably grateful to have been there when he needed her. As she shows in these pages, she certainly needed to be at his side.

A poignant and engaging account that features some pithy advice delivered with strength and panache.

Pub Date: May 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-09-674453-5

Page Count: 177

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 2, 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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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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