As refreshingly southern and satisfying as a cool glass of iced tea.

LIFE: BE THERE AT TEN 'TIL

A COLLECTION OF HOMEGROWN WISDOMS

With all the charm of Robert Fulghum, screenwriter Johnson spins a few yarns, shares a few vignettes and offers a variety of commendable life lessons.

Johnson was raised in rural South Carolina, a place where the difference between Baptists and Methodists matters; where people call soda “Co-Cola,” never Coke (or, God forbid, Pepsi); where Conway, S.C. is considered a metropolitan area. As a child he was taught to appreciate the simple things in life, and he learned the importance of hard work and community–not to mention good food. Indeed, the story is redolent with fine Southern cuisine: country ham, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, pecan pie, banana pudding and more. Not just a paean to home cooking, Johnson has also crafted a loving ode to his parents–his dignified, selfless mother and his inquisitive, loving father–who raised him right. At the end of the day, he can barely remember the four-star restaurants he’s visited as an adult, but he has lasting memories of the simple meals he enjoyed with his family at the IHOP. Also enlightening is the author’s take-no-prisoners critique of contemporary communication technology–cell phones, caller ID, email. We may use these gizmos to facilitate relationships with our loved ones, he says, but in reality, we hide behind them. In fact, says Johnson, we now live in a throw-away culture where we casually discard whatever seems inconvenient, whether “Styrofoam or marriage.” Compared to the homey, comfortable world of Johnson’s childhood, today’s cell phone landscape seems bleak. He concludes the final chapter by acknowledging that we all just get through life “the best damn way [we] can.” Good advice for anyone, and Johnson’s musings offer soothing companionship along the way.

As refreshingly southern and satisfying as a cool glass of iced tea.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58348-232-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 25

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

THE ROAD TO CHARACTER

New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more