PRISM OF THE NIGHT

A BIOGRAPHY OF ANNE RICE

Exciting life of bestselling gothicist Anne Rice, by psychologist/philosopher Ramsland (Philosophy/Rutgers). Benefiting from Rice's input, this will have to be thought of as an ``authorized'' biography, although Ramsland is her own writer—and at times a heavy-going writer, bearing what might be called the Curse of the Jungians, an overdense working out of Rice's sea-changes and gender shiftings. Born in New Orleans and named Howard Allen, Rice has always been an outsider with strong male traits and since childhood has refused to accept victimization by dress and gender codes. Like Orson Welles, she and her three sisters were raised from infancy to be geniuses, allowed to stay up late, dabble at will and read what they wished, and skip school, all with the doting permission of their alcoholic mother, Katherine, and highly moral Catholic father, Howard. Katherine's death at 48 was the deepest blow Rice had ever experienced (alcoholism claimed many family members at that very age and might have claimed Rice as well had she and her brilliant poet-husband Stan Rice not agreed in 1979 to total abstinence)—and was followed by her daughter Michele's death from leukemia at age five. These events fed in a disguised fashion into her first successful novel, Interview with the Vampire, and into her following vampire novels, which, Ramsland shows, granted immortality to her dead mother and daughter—until Rice killed them off and arose psychically refreshed. Despite success, she writes as she wishes: Later novels were audience-losers, as were pseudonymous porno novels, until she returned to her vampire chronicles. Ramsland's study climaxes in the middle—with the deeply moving death of Michele as recaptured by Stan's electric elegy—and her later knifework on the Rice psyche and its fictions gets tiresome. Still, the book is mostly quite gripping, and deserves to hit big and probably will. (Sixteen pages of b&w photograph—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-525-93370-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1991

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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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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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