Overall, a satisfying collection of vignettes about family and career suitable not only for fans of the author’s previous...

Time Pieces


A random assortment of over 100 short texts that reflect on a life well-lived.

Lubow (Wild Notes, 2015, etc.) presents vignettes in haphazard fashion without attempting to organize them thematically or chronologically. Spanning several decades, many take place in the Chicago area and focus on his family life or his career in the field of advertising. Some of the more endearing moments involve his wife, Donna. In one of his longer pieces, “The second call,” Lubow demonstrates how the trait of persistence served him well, not only when first meeting Donna at college, but also as part of his eventual profession. The inclusion of “footnotes” following many pieces allows the author to reflect on events with the benefit of hindsight or to provide updates, perhaps most effectively in “Four refusals and a footnote,” where he recounts creative differences with the talent in the field and then unexpected resolutions. “Summertime,” easily one of the most touching sketches, imagines an encounter between the author, Donna, and their now-deceased parents, where all appear to be in the primes of their lives. Generally, Lubow is at his best when he allows himself room for vivid sensory descriptions, as in “Halloween, 1949,” which conveys the palpable excitement for all ages surrounding that particular celebration. Again, a footnote adds value; the author modestly explains that even though the physical elements of a story may have faded, “they’re here in rambling words that compel themselves to get written down and are not much, but better than nothing.” As is often the case with this type of format, not all pieces carry the same weight. For instance, the flattening of a squirrel evokes 11 different glimpses of accidents or near misses involving vehicles, humans, and animals. The final piece in this largely entertaining volume occurs in a London eatery in the early 1980s. Dining with his wife and two sons, Lubow feels a sharp sense of pride and then mentions that the bistro in question is no longer open. Tellingly, he writes: “But the past never closes.”

Overall, a satisfying collection of vignettes about family and career suitable not only for fans of the author’s previous works, but also for new readers.

Pub Date: June 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5304-1652-3

Page Count: 132

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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 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 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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