Neither easy hagiography or melancholy Curtis elegy, but a sober and illuminating account of a brilliant band’s too-short...

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THIS SEARING LIGHT, THE SUN AND EVERYTHING ELSE

JOY DIVISION: THE ORAL HISTORY

A deep dive into one of rock music’s most path-breaking bands and cautionary tales.

The story of Joy Division has become post-punk folklore. Launched in 1976 in Manchester, a grimy and declining British industrial city, the quartet masterfully harnessed the Sex Pistols’ energy, Krautrock cool, and Doors-ish pretension. Commercial success and critical acclaim arrived fast, but the band ended with singer Ian Curtis’ suicide in May 1980, on the brink of its first U.S. tour. Veteran U.K. music journalist Savage (1966: The Year the Decade Exploded, 2015, etc.) was on the scene at the time, and this oral history reflects a level of access and attention to detail worthy of the band’s importance, including band members Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, and Stephen Morris, producer Martin Hannett, record-label impresario Tony Wilson, designer Peter Saville, and more than two dozen scenesters, photographers, and writers. (Curtis’ contributions are mostly taken from newspaper articles; commentary from his estranged wife, Deborah, comes mostly from her own memoir.) Savage’s quote-selection process emphasizes the youthfulness and naiveté of the band, who were holding down day jobs, flirting with fascist imagery, and barely competent as musicians when they began. Their much-imitated innovations—e.g., integrating electronic drums or having bass carry the melody line—emerged as the happy accidents of unschooled 20-somethings. Naiveté cut both ways, though. Everybody involved confesses being at a loss to address Curtis’ worsening epilepsy and depression and paid little mind to his lyrics, which plainly read as cries for help; shamefully, they hastened Curtis to a gig just after he was hospitalized for a suicide attempt. “People admired him for the things that were destroying him,” his widow says, and the agonizing closing pages reveal how tragically blinding that admiration was.

Neither easy hagiography or melancholy Curtis elegy, but a sober and illuminating account of a brilliant band’s too-short career.

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34537-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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

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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