RESIDENT ALIEN

THE NEW YORK DIARIES

Placidly whimsical observations by the ever-charming Crisp (Manners from Heaven, 1985, etc.) on his occasion-filled life as ``a free-loader, a dilettante, a butterfly on the wheel.'' Crisp writes reviews and essays, attends openings and parties, and entertains anyone who wishes to hear his opinions, from curious strangers to lecture-hall audiences. Here he tells us briefly about the books he read, plays and movies he attended, and other things he was invited to do from 1990 to 1994. These diaries, far from being especially intimate, are culled from a regular column he wrote for the New York Native. The 86-year-old author, an expatriate Briton, would have it that his urbane facade is all there is, that no unknown quirks of personality lurk beneath his flamboyantly gay, superhumanly gracious, and baroquely eloquent public persona. When a stranger calls him at his Manhattan rooming house to request a meeting, says Crisp, ``Whenever possible, I comply with his or her request on the principle that we should never say no to anything except an appeal for money.'' (He's listed in the phone book, so this happens rather often.) He acted as an extra in the film Philadelphia and played Queen Elizabeth I in Orlando, an experience he describes entirely as a war of endurance against his unwieldy costume. He made numerous trips around the country in order to give lectures and to promote a documentary about himself, Resident Alien; the author's pronouncements on the virtues of his adopted compatriots suggest that he is among the most generous-minded people alive. His wit is often mordant, which saves him from utter preciosity: ``I have always liked death, especially other people's death, but have recently been contemplating my own with a certain amount of relish.'' Admirers of the trademark Crisp style will be delighted, but it's difficult to fathom how he endures the relentless superficiality of much of his existence. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-55583-405-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Alyson

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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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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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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