A slim, mildly intriguing glimpse into Rilke’s daily life.

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THE DARK INTERVAL

LETTERS ON LOSS, GRIEF, AND TRANSFORMATION

A collection of never-before-published letters by the renowned poet.

“What can you say in the face of loss, when words seem too frail and ordinary to communicate our grief and soothe the pain?” asks translator and editor Baer (German and Comparative Literature/New York Univ.; We Are But a Moment, 2017, etc.). The letters included in this brief but dense collection grapple with this crucial question. Taken from correspondences that Rilke had with friends, relatives, and acquaintances in light of the deaths of various individuals, these letters provide a space for ruminations and a careful study of our relationship to death. In each letter, Rilke addresses the death of the person in question, but he also uses it as a steppingstone to offer his own perspective on the ways in which humans are conditioned to die: “I think that the spirit cannot make itself so small that it concerns nothing but our existence in the here and now: Where it rushes toward us, we are both the living and the death.” More interestingly, the letters offer windows into daily life between 1908 and 1925, pointing out the many mundane events that punctuated Rilke’s life—e.g., a spa treatment he received—as well as the emotional toll his poetry was taking on his letter-writing abilities. Though these letters are an important contribution to Rilke’s archive, they don’t offer enough context for general readers to truly latch onto them. For those knowledgeable about Rilke’s work, these letters will serve as fresh reading material, new modes of understanding his practice, and demonstrations of his thinking about writing and existence (“we have been tasked with nothing as unconditionally as learning on a daily basis how to die”). But for those just now discovering his work, the letters might serve as a disservice to the colossal beauty of his poetry.

A slim, mildly intriguing glimpse into Rilke’s daily life.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-50984-4

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Modern Library

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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