Perhaps not the last word on Stone but essential for students and fans of the writer’s works.

READ REVIEW

CHILD OF LIGHT

A BIOGRAPHY OF ROBERT STONE

Comprehensive life of the late novelist Robert Stone (1937-2015), victim and chronicler of an excessive era.

“Nothing is free.” So, writes novelist Bell (Behind the Moon, 2017, etc.), ran a mantra of Stone’s. It’s fitting. Stone grew up fatherless, with a mother who may have been schizophrenic, in and out of orphanages and shelters, and he responded with a need to fight for every achievement. So he did, joining a gang, showing up drunk to high school—and somehow arriving in Wallace Stegner’s famed writing workshop at Stanford. There, Stone fell in with the likes of Ken Kesey and Neal Cassady and spent much of the 1960s zonked out, lending irony to the subtitle of his memoir Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties. But as Bell clearly shows, Stone was still capable of marvels: His Vietnam War novel Dog Soldiers, published in 1974, was “regarded as the definitive work of fiction on the war by readers who found it both curious and curiously appropriate that only a small percentage of its action took place in Vietnam, and practically none of it in combat.” Other hallmark novels were Children of Light and A Flag for Sunrise, a Pulitzer finalist. Stone arrived at a state of solvency and relative fame in midcareer, hampered only by his prodigious appetites: The end of the 1990s found him suffering from many illnesses, some self-wrought, as his “drug and alcohol problems were still hovering at crisis level.” Bell’s approach seems formulaic after a time: He writes of a period of time, offers a sometimes-too-detailed summary of the plot of a given book or story, surveys the criticism (Michiko Kakutani being a special bête noire), and finally looks at the till. It’s a lot of inside baseball. Though perhaps too much for civilian readers, the business end in particular will fascinate working writers. For all Stone’s flaws, Bell makes a solid case for the importance of his work.

Perhaps not the last word on Stone but essential for students and fans of the writer’s works.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-54160-2

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more