An engaging volume that offers lovely photos and stirring reflections.

THROUGH A SOBER LENS

A PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNEY

A compilation of photographs and musings shares the story of a man’s struggle to overcome alcoholism.

In May 2010, Blanchard (Fighting for My Life, 2014)—a former marathon runner and the COO of a Maine company—passed out in his car on the side of the road after drinking vodka and taking Xanax. When a state patrolman approached his car, the author woke up and tried to speed away. This was the third time in three months he had been arrested for alcohol-related crimes. With his marriage in deep trouble and the prospect of jail time, he was extremely depressed and decided to end his life. Fortunately, he was sent to a psychiatric hospital, where he received compassionate, professional help and a referral to a rehab program. Blanchard took his last drink on July 26, 2010, and though it wasn’t easy, he used several tools, such as therapeutic writing, to remain on a sober path. One of his greatest pleasures was taking photographs of picturesque places, especially his beloved Martha’s Vineyard. A self-taught photographer, the author replaced vodka with the natural highs he received from studying and shooting lush landscapes, like peaceful seaside sunrises. Hoping to inspire others who struggle with addiction, he offers this captivating collection of more than 50 color photos of mostly outdoor subjects—like a majestic red-tailed hawk appearing at South Beach and the brilliant Gay Head Cliffs glowing in a sunset’s light, both on Martha’s Vineyard—along with his pensive thoughts about recovery and sobriety. Blanchard’s beautiful photos are often calming reflections of his words. For example, when he discusses how drinking kept him in a shell in which he didn’t have to share his true self with others, he includes a compelling photo of a spiral lighthouse stairway, which looks shell-like. Meandering from topic to topic—a thoughtful examination of the pain his bad decisions caused is followed by a list of personal affirmations and a moving anecdote about a Facebook friend’s death—Blanchard’s eloquent prose is easy to browse and ponder.

An engaging volume that offers lovely photos and stirring reflections.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-49159-2

Page Count: 100

Publisher: Genevieve Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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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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