A highly detailed, literary tit for tat for fans of publishing and literary history.

THE POET AND THE PUBLISHER

THE CASE OF ALEXANDER POPE, ESQ., OF TWICKENHAM VERSUS EDMUND CURLL, BOOKSELLER IN GRUB STREET

An account of 18th-century literary shenanigans.

Three centuries ago, there were no marketing and sales juggernauts at publishing houses, so authors and booksellers had to find other means to publicize their books. It was not always a virtuous process. Rogers, a noted authority on Alexander Pope, delivers a lively tale about one of the nastiest and most famous protracted feuds in literary history: between the Catholic poet Pope and Edmund Curll, a “rascally publisher” of obscene items who “spent his career dodging…the law.” Telling the story in the form of a trial, Rogers unearths reams of primary source materials or “exhibits” and extensive quotations to show how the clashes between them evolved. After a fulsome assessment of the time—politics, religion, battles of wit, Grub Street—the London they lived in, and sketches of the two antagonists, the trial begins. In 1714, Pope published his five canto The Rape of the Lock; Curll, with no right to it, nonetheless issued his own edition. The feud had officially begun. Beginning in 1716, each assaulted the other via a series of damaging pamphlets. Pope was busy with his edition of Shakespeare’s plays and his translation of the Odyssey while Curll spent some time in jail for lewd publications. The publication of Pope’s The Dunciad, Rogers writes, was “more than a work of literature. Its appearance constituted an event.” Curll was mentioned in it often, and he responded with his Popiad. The feud took its “strangest turn yet” with Pope’s published letters, which Curll pirated, resulting in the now-famous 1741 copyright case, Pope v. Curll, which Pope won. In an enlightening, overlong narrative, Rogers delivers the case, one lying “thickly documented in the archives.” Readers can deliver their own verdict: Who was the most maligned?

A highly detailed, literary tit for tat for fans of publishing and literary history.

Pub Date: June 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78914-416-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Reaktion Books

Review Posted Online: April 7, 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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