Pythonophiles will find this essential, of course. But fans of good writing should dip into these pages, too, for...

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HALFWAY TO HOLLYWOOD

DIARIES 1980-1988

Renowned funnyman and world traveler Palin surveys the ruins of the British Empire and heads outward in the follow-up to Diaries 1969–1979: The Python Years (2007).

In 1980, following the release of the films Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian, Palin and his fellow Pythons seemed poised to conquer the American film industry, with their representative asking more than $6 million for a mere treatment for Paramount. Eight years later, as this installment in the author’s journal closes, the sextet has effectively stopped working together, and Palin is about to embark upon the global adventures that yielded Around the World in 80 DaysPole to Pole and other travelogues. In between, the author writes about all manner of things connected to the film and TV business and the more learned reaches of entertainment. He kvetches about Hollywood’s creative accounting (“The upshot is that not only will there not be a penny profit from America from a movie which was one of the top 40 grossers of the year in the US, but the earnings will hardly cover half the production cost”) and about the conception of various projects such as Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits, which, despite the contributions of Sean Connery and the general merriment, Palin still wants to call Terry Gilliam’s Greed. Throughout, Palin is sharp, literate, shrewd and sometimes harsh about the people he encounters. It will not please fans of The Songlines, for instance, to learn that Palin found Bruce Chatwin “rather sneery about things in a slightly aggressive, camp way which I don’t awfully take to.” Neither might Mel Brooks forgive Palin’s description of their chance encounter, which would seem to demonstrate definitively that “Brooks has an almost pathological inability to accept competition—it’s all a reduction of his own world.”

Pythonophiles will find this essential, of course. But fans of good writing should dip into these pages, too, for Palin—Michael, not Sarah—knows his way around a book.

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-68202-6

Page Count: 680

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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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 Books

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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