The book is a familiar tale of rock ’n’ roll, sin and redemption, but Taylor’s capable voice make this a more nuanced and...

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IN THE PLEASURE GROOVE

LOVE, DEATH, AND DURAN DURAN

Capably written if predictable rock memoir by bassist Taylor of the 1980s supergroup Duran Duran.

Writing of 1981, Taylor recalls thinking, “We have become idols, icons. Subjects of worship.” Right he was, as Duran Duran became arguably the biggest pop group of the early ’80s, selling million of records worldwide and dominating the then-new medium of music video. All of this was both enchanting and overwhelming for Taylor, a young lad raised in the Birmingham (England) suburb of—oddly enough given Duran Duran’s taste for glamour—Hollywood. With the assistance of Sykes (co-author: Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow, 2010), Taylor is at his best when describing his working-class roots and his close, only-child relationship with his parents. Eventually, Taylor was “drawn inexorably toward pop music and the culture around it.” He chronicles the forming of the band, their rise from obscurity to superstardom, the inevitable rifts that had the band forming and reforming, and their inexorable fall from chart-topping grace as pop-music tastes moved on. Yet even at the height of Duran Duran’s popularity, Taylor was plagued by powerful self-doubts and unhappiness. “I was struck by the idea that ten thousand people wanted to have a relationship with me and I could barely have a relationship with myself,” he writes. Addictions—to alcohol, drugs, sex, fame—filled the void. In the late 1990s, Taylor entered rehab and has been, not without struggle, clean and sober ever since. He claims that Duran Duran remains a relevant band: “The music never sounded better.”

The book is a familiar tale of rock ’n’ roll, sin and redemption, but Taylor’s capable voice make this a more nuanced and intriguing memoir than might be expected.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-95800-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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