Initially, one fears this may be a crass exposé of the “queer” life of the artist, but Peppiatt shows a deft hand in...




Peppiatt (Art Plural: Voices of Contemporary Art, 2014, etc.) delivers “the subjective story of two lives, focusing on the complex, volatile relationship that bound [Francis] Bacon and me together over…three decades.”

The author describes Bacon as the Dr. Caligari of art, painting portraits of twisted, distorted, disfigured, and discolored bodies. Their first meeting was in 1963, when Peppiatt interviewed the “subversive” artist. The author felt as if he were being sucked in, trapped, and out of his depth with this alcoholic, sadomasochistic homosexual. He was a willing victim who spent a large part of his life preserving Bacon’s rants. Life with the artist was a succession of fine meals at top-notch restaurants followed by stops at clubs of steadily decreasing social acceptance and ending with late meals at Annabel’s. Peppiatt succeeded in remembering Bacon’s words mostly because he repeated himself so often. Champagne was followed by wine and liquor of increasing strength, as well as plenty of gambling. The author describes Bacon as “very critical and unforgiving in his opinions of other people and above all their art; very supportive but also very destructive; very vain and arrogant yet surprisingly realistic and modest.” Though Peppiatt was never sexually attached, he was a Boswell-like sounding board and a link for introductions. The young author took to the free-wheeling 1960s, exploring in France, Tangier, and Spain, always returning to Bacon. It’s likely that his ties to Bacon and his connections to the stars of the art world helped him to a wonderful career in art history and publishing, but the author is fully candid and open in his beguiling portrait of this bad boy of the art world.

Initially, one fears this may be a crass exposé of the “queer” life of the artist, but Peppiatt shows a deft hand in crafting an enthralling, delightful story of two very different men.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63286-344-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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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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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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