A beautifully written field guide to being weird.

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MISFIT'S MANIFESTO

One of the country’s most gifted transgressive writers pens a love letter to her fellow misfits.

By all accounts, not least her own, Yuknavitch (The Book of Joan, 2017, etc.) has lived a difficult life. After a stillborn daughter, a suicide attempt, heroin addiction, three marriages, a DUI arrest, and a bout of homelessness, one would forgive the author for not sharing. But unlike her devastating memoir (The Chronology of Water, 2011), here she offers up her mistakes couched in a message of hope. Based on her 2016 TED Talk, “The Beauty of Being a Misfit,” it offers a bold, clear statement about the character of artists and an individual’s right to nonconformity. Early on, Yuknavitch delivers an insightful mantra: “If there’s one phrase that I should probably tattoo on my forehead it is this: I’m not the story you made of me.” The opening to the third chapter, “The Myth that Suffering Makes You Stronger,” is, “What a crock of shit.” You have to give it to the author for telling it like it is, at least for her. Along the way, she chronicles her interviews with other writers, artists, friends, and nonconformists, offering a more global portrait of what it’s like to live outside traditional social frameworks. In “The Misfit’s Journey, or, Why the Hero’s Journey Bites,” she offers a searing prosecution of an old archetypal chestnut: “Here’s another secret: a lot of us are also secretly empathizing with the so-called villain. I’ve been arrested. I’ve gone to jail and rehab. I’m no hero. But every fall I’ve taken has shown me how to be a better person. Profoundly.” Far from being an advice manual, the book is more of an enlightened lesson in forgiving one’s self and moving forward: “News flash! I might fuck up again. As a matter of fact, I’m quite certain I will. But it will not mean I’m nothing.”

A beautifully written field guide to being weird.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4711-6232-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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