An absorbing and layered study of “one of the most influential voices in Western popular culture.”

HOMEWARD BOUND

THE LIFE OF PAUL SIMON

A biography of the singer/songwriter who helped define the cultural landscape of the 1960s as half of the folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel and who later achieved massive success as a solo artist.

At an impromptu school assembly in 1952, Paul Simon (b. 1941) first heard his classmate Art Garfunkel sing, though they didn’t know each other at the time. The experience made an impression on the young Simon, who saw in Garfunkel his nascent desire to become a singer and star. As freelance journalist and veteran music writer Carlin (Bruce, 2012, etc.) observes in his nuanced, fascinating portrait, Simon’s friendship with Garfunkel would be the defining relationship of his life, both professionally and personally. Their brotherly and often contentious friendship would see them rise during the 1960s from humble wannabes with second lives in law school and a graduate program in mathematics to pop superstars. Growing up in a musical household—his father, Louis, was a professional bass player—Simon’s musical interests were encouraged, and he received early lessons in the business, which would influence his shrewd approach to making deals. As Carlin notes, however, Louis would become resentful of his son’s success and would harangue him to give up his career to become a teacher despite being a world-renowned pop star. This feeling of inferiority would fuel Simon’s lifelong identity crisis, as he adopted many pseudonyms throughout his career, notably Jerry Landis, and constantly struggled with fame and his own abilities. Carlin expertly tracks Simon’s professional career, from the earliest days with Garfunkel when they were finding their footing as performers, through the climax of their career as a band with their 1970 album “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” to Simon’s solo artistic peak with the 1986 release of “Graceland.” Simon’s music career defies easy categorization—much as his relationship with Garfunkel does—but in Carlin’s portrayal, his legacy as an innovative songwriter and musician is undeniable.

An absorbing and layered study of “one of the most influential voices in Western popular culture.”

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-034-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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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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