A heartfelt page-turner about depression and how dogs can save us from ourselves.

Dog Medicine

HOW MY DOG SAVED ME FROM MYSELF

In this moving debut autobiography, a chronically depressed short story writer tells how her relationship with her dog saved her life.

Barton was a successful associate editor for an unnamed book publisher in New York City and appeared on her way to further success, but catastrophic depression continually gnawed at her. One morning, she found herself lying disoriented on the floor of her barren Manhattan apartment, the room full of smoke because she’d collapsed while at the stove while cooking the night before. With disturbing clarity, the author lays bare in the starkest terms the ravages of deep depression, including the continual destructive self-talk that consistently undermined her. “You’re so stupid,” Barton berated herself on that fateful morning; she eventually crawled across the floor to call her mother and tell her that she thought she’d had a nervous breakdown. What seeds in the author’s life grew such poisoned fruit? Barton writes that her brother often physically and verbally abused her and undermined her parents’ attempts to deal with sibling rivalry. The author unmasks the hidden face of domestic violence, writing that her brother once pushed her so hard that she ended up cracking her head, lying unconscious in a pool of her own blood: “I woke disoriented,” Barton writes, “my father hovering over me, yelling, panicked.” This difficult subject matter might cause a lesser writer to overreach and fall into maudlin sentimentality, but Barton writes with simple clarity and precision about her depression and its effects on her life, and about her bad choices in relationships with men. Her relentless drive toward self-destruction was eventually healed by her crucial, life-changing relationship with her dog, Bunker. Through the memoir, the author shows a captivating ability to observe the interplay of external events and her inner life. Along the way, she discovers, through Bunker’s unconditional love, her own capacity for self-realization. When a medical issue threatens to cripple or even kill Bunker, readers will wonder whether the dog—and Barton herself—will survive.

A heartfelt page-turner about depression and how dogs can save us from ourselves.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9863607-8-7

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Think Piece Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2015

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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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