A meandering memoir of the way things used to be and the gradual acceptance of modernity.

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SMALL TOWN AMERICA FRAMINGHAM THRU MY EYES

THE WAR YEARS AND BEYOND

A first-generation Italian-American, born in in the midst of the Great Depression, shares her real-life childhood experiences during World War II and the Cold War.

In this conversational recollection of her rural Massachusetts upbringing, Fafard (Secrets of the Heart, 2010) writes a paean to “the Greatest Generation.” Concentrating on her formative years, she writes of “yesterday, when I was young,” allowing her adolescent eyes and ever-questioning perspective to absorb the rough and tumble lives of her family and immigrant neighbors. She explains how difficult it was to be a person of Italian descent in a country at war with Mussolini’s forces and discusses the films and songs that helped her escape the daily reports of horror coming out of Europe. She acknowledges the lives lost and families torn apart by the war and the numerous hardships suffered by the people of Framingham generally and her own small family in particular. Despite the constant bootstrap-pulling, Fafard refers to her childhood several times as “idyllic.” She admits that she assumed while growing up that everyone else lived a life such as hers; some readers may wonder if the author misses her youth more than she laments the extensive social and political changes she’s witnessed. To back up her keen memories, Fafard cites the Military Channel and Wikipedia; she refers readers to YouTube to enhance their appreciation for Ella Fitzgerald and the Ink Spots. She occasionally goes on tangents featuring political editorializing (“we had few if any social programs to tie you to government handouts”) and mystical theories (“Could it be true, that we are in one of many universes that are infinite?”). The author dots the book with poems and black-and-white photographs; many illustrate Fafard’s nostalgic journey to a time when “bus drivers made change” and “dresses for women, jacket and shirt with tie for men” were “appropriate.”

A meandering memoir of the way things used to be and the gradual acceptance of modernity.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1466201026

Page Count: 192

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2012

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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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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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