This lively biography paints a colorful portrait of the writer as public relations master and trendsetter.

THE INVENTION OF OSCAR WILDE

An exploration of Oscar Wilde’s intentional construction of a new persona.

In his latest book about Wilde, Frankel focuses on the author’s deliberate self-reinvention, predicated on a desire for fame. Frankel contends that Wilde’s time at Oxford marked the beginnings of the Wilde we know today. “Especially determined to make a name for himself as a poet,” he shortened his name and effected a new accent. Years later, he noted, “My Irish accent was one of the many things I forgot at Oxford.” Wilde moved to London and began identifying himself as English, becoming the object of satirical attack. Soon, he embarked on his famous North American lecture tour. “He was the first modern celebrity,” writes Frankel, “a transatlantic superstar whose self-created public image went before him, and his lecture tour went hand in hand with a media frenzy accompanying his every move.” Wilde’s eccentric appearance broke gender norms and presented a stark contrast to the “bearded or moustachioed” appearance that dominated the day. Regarding the experience overseas, Wilde noted “a greater openness than Britain in matters of gender and sexuality.” In 1884, Wilde married Constance Lloyd, a union that drew speculation and gossip. As Frankel contends, Wilde was becoming “increasingly willing to act on his desires for other men,” and his fiction “was becoming increasingly provocative.” Through a close examination of his literary works, Frankel notes similarities to Wilde’s personal life. The author also explores the circumstances that led to Wilde’s conviction on counts of gross indecency. While in prison, Wilde wrote a letter that would become “one of the most important and influential works of his life.” After his release, he assumed a pseudonym and exiled himself to France, where he again found greater acceptance. After Wilde’s death, his literary executor published excerpts from the letter, the first step in a long battle for public redemption.

This lively biography paints a colorful portrait of the writer as public relations master and trendsetter.

Pub Date: June 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78914-414-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Reaktion Books

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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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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