Sobering relationship advice yet wickedly funny at times.

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SUDDENLY SINGLE AT SIXTY

A debut dating guide targets widows and divorced women.

Koprucki, who suffered the death of her spouse after “more than” 29 years of marriage, writes with candor in this manual about the sometimes-unimaginable pain of loss. She begins by discussing the unique challenge of facing holidays and special occasions alone. The author suggests establishing new traditions, engaging in travel, and focusing on others to deflect melancholy and depression. Her advice is compassionate yet blunt: “You will never be able fully to divide him from you, so stop trying and let it flow.…There is no such thing as absolute closure.” The bulk of the book pertains to living with loss and getting on with life, largely as it relates to developing a relationship with another man. Much of the volume centers on how to reenter the dating scene; Koprucki shares her thoughts about appearance, concentrating on hair, makeup, weight, and clothes. Chapters concerning where men congregate and the three basic male types (“TradeDown, Jungleboy, and TradeUp”) are enlightening as well as highly amusing. Jungleboy, writes the author, “is a real man with street smarts.…Jungleboy is a participant, not a spectator.…He is at home in the vortex of conflict.” Several observations of masculine behavior are insightful; for example, a list of key attributes highlights “how does he treat waiters and waitresses? Or anyone whom he mistakenly perceives as being beneath him in social and/or career status? This tells who he is.” Koprucki spends considerable time covering the ins and outs of online dating with an emphasis on do’s and don’ts. Later chapters concern budding relationships with men—communicating via email, text, or phone; interacting with family and friends; sustaining a relationship; and gauging the potential for marriage. Still, portions of the book speak to female independence, such as a chapter that encourages women to fix mechanical and electronic items. Rather than exuding doom and gloom, the author’s sense of humor is liberally sprinkled throughout the guide. This lightens up what is undoubtedly a heart-wrenching time for women who are suddenly single.

Sobering relationship advice yet wickedly funny at times.

Pub Date: June 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5043-1418-3

Page Count: 138

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: March 19, 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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

HOW TO BE AN ARTIST

A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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