An intermittently funny yet largely unremarkable memoir of recovery.

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MY LIFE AS A MARIJUANA ADDICT IN THE AGE OF LEGAL WEED

The Austin-based novelist and journalist chronicles his battle with marijuana.

In his two previous books of nonfiction, Pollack has explored his attempts to reinvent himself. Alternadad (2007) recounted his efforts to become a cool father while Stretch (2010) focused on the practical and existential benefits of yoga. While the author has always made a few sly comments about his drug consumption, his latest book shows how, for the 15 years after Rolling Stone named him the “Hot Writer of the Millenium” in 2000, he engaged in a “nonstop marijuana binge.” Pollack begins in gonzo fashion with a chronicle of his road trip from Austin to Pueblo, Colorado, where he and his pal explored the newly (state) legal forms of cannabis, driving around “high as mockingbirds.” For those who follow the author’s work, there are a few pleasing flashbacks, including his run on Jeopardy! and his stint as a marijuana journalist. However, what seemed like mischievous misadventures at the time are uncomfortably rendered here. Among Pollack’s many transgressions: exploding into a profanity-laced tirade during a pub trivia night, falling into a “low-rent gambling” habit, and “plac[ing] my marriage in mortal danger” with his erratic behavior. The plummet to the bottom occurred after his mother’s sudden death, after which the author took himself on a “self-styled improvised baseball holiday,” spending money he didn’t have on a ticket to the 2017 World Series. And smoking a joint laced with crack in the depths of grief did little to improve his demeanor. The consequences described in the book’s final half comprise a fairly conventional addiction-narrative arc, with Pollack coming to terms with his addiction and the need for sobriety. Ultimately, it’s the same old song: Artist gets really high, screws up a lot, and finally grows up a little bit.

An intermittently funny yet largely unremarkable memoir of recovery.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949481-30-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Central Recovery Press

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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.

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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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