A beer-sozzled, speed-cranked nail bomb of a book—what everybody’s Saturday night should be like.

I HAVE FUN EVERYWHERE I GO

SAVAGE TALES OF POT, PORN, PUNK ROCK, PRO WRESTLING, TALKING APES, EVIL BOSSES, DIRTY BLUES, AMERICAN HEROES, AND THE MOST NOTORIOUS MAGAZINES IN THE WORLD

Edison’s juicy screed of a memoir is like a kick in the solar plexus: It may hurt like nobody’s business, but at least it wakes you up.

The prototypical nice Jewish boy from the Jersey suburbs with perennially disappointed parents, teenaged Mike loved nothing more than smoking pot and drinking booze, preferably while pursuing other loves like pro wrestling (he wrote and edited a zine called Main Event in the mid-’80s) and punk rock (he worshipped at its altar with his almighty drum set). A short stint at NYU film school didn’t pan out—the Jean Renoir–worshipping snobs sniffed at his downmarket tastes—so Edison spent a few years rocking across New York and Europe with his band, Sharky’s Machine. At home, the freakishly evolved, high-functioning substance abuser paid the bills by doing everything from cranking out a porn novel a week (the money was good, the page lengths set, and dialogue took up a lot of space) to editing and writing at top speed for porn, wrestling and trade magazines. Things slowed down a bit when, after a particularly debauched period touring and drinking his way around Spain, Edison started taking real jobs, realizing to his surprise that “somehow I had turned a three-year coke jag into a marketable skill.” What should have been a dream gig at High Times magazine turned into a nightmare as the hippie-hating punk butted heads with the lazy hippies on staff. While an excellent introduction to the ins-and-outs of magazine publishing, this part of the book loses momentum as Edison devotes too many pages to settling scores with old enemies. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before he was back out in the world, living for the moment.

A beer-sozzled, speed-cranked nail bomb of a book—what everybody’s Saturday night should be like.

Pub Date: May 22, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-86547-964-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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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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