Neither a nuanced political analysis nor a typical comedian’s laughfest.

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PUNCHING NAZIS

AND OTHER GOOD IDEAS

Give fists a chance.

As a boyhood veteran of the Sacramento punk scene, Jensen became uncomfortably familiar with white supremacy before it began veering toward mainstream acceptability. In this scattered collection of polemics, broadsides, stand-up routines, social commentary, and personal anecdotes, the street-wise author and comedian mainly leads with his heart. His heart tells him that racism is wrong, wrong enough to deserve a punch in the nose whenever one encounters it. However, he notes early on, “full disclosure; I’ve never punched a Nazi. This is my great shame.” Regardless, Jensen supports those who do, even if he admits that sometimes those folks are just looking for a brawl. Take his ambivalence toward a group that some readers might not know: “The SHARPS, Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice.” You have to be up on your cultural codes and tribes to understand that shaved “skinheads” originally embraced everything about Jamaica: the culture, the rhythms, the black musicians—until the shorn style was adopted by militant white racists who transformed that culture into their stomping grounds. Hence the SHARPS, who represent a rejection of that racist stereotype and a return to the original ethos—ostensibly. A club promoter suggested to the author that they weren’t really effective anti-Nazi warriors but rather “just dudes who wanted to fight. They cloaked it in some kind of ideal but they were just dudes who wanted to fight.” Jensen admits to his own ambivalence: “I didn’t like a lot of the SHARPS, and I loved several of them,” before concluding, “whatever other issues I may have had with them, I will always admire them for their Nazi punching. Well done, crew, well done.” His sentiment toward Antifa—the aggressive anti-fascist protestors—is similar: “If you think Antifa groups are as bad as Nazis, please stop being the right’s tool.” This is a book about right and wrong, and if right stops wrong with a punch, so much the better.

Neither a nuanced political analysis nor a typical comedian’s laughfest.

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5107-3374-9

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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 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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