A rollicking and readable demon- and dragon-haunted memoir of an old soul in the modern world.

My Life and My Other Life

MY LIFE IN THE MUNDANE AND OTHERWORLD

A split-screen debut autobiography shuttles between the real world and realms of fantasy.

In this account of his life and times, Saunders alternates between two extremes. Although he gives readers precious little in the way of padding for the shock of transition, he’s such a natural storyteller that most will likely hang on despite the unbridgeable dichotomy at the heart of the book. On the one hand, Saunders tells the entirely quotidian story of his existence in the observable world. Born in 1977 in Connecticut to working-class parents, he recounts growing up in Illinois and near the levy of New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain, riding his bike, and visiting candy stores with other little boys. On the other hand, he spins a fantastic yarn about being a 22,818-year-old (“give or take a century”) reincarnated supernatural being from the Other World, the half-breed son of a half elf and half vampire named Lanadra and a half-angel and half-devil hybrid called Balatas. The real-world Saunders listened to rock music, went to school, and crushed on girls. He became a reverend through the Universal Life Church. The Other World Saunders, Riolis Silverwolf, an “Apyrogothric/Archangelic/Elder Vampiric/Elvin Elder” known as “Abomination,” consorts with fairies and dragons, has visited Earth for 100-year intervals for millenniums, and was responsible for the sinking of the lost city of Atlantis. The author makes some valiant attempts to link these two halves of his story—he periodically indulges in bromides about how “we are taught that magick is not real. Dragons, fairies, and other such things are myths” until readers’ spiritual eyes are opened, but such efforts are doomed, and surely the antic, joking tone Saunders often employs signals that he is aware of this. Rather, readers should just go along for the great ride the author has in store for them. The odd, unconventional book could use a strong housecleaning edit (there was no figure in history, for instance, called “Vlad the Impellor”), but the larger tale here—a sprawling fantasy life lived right alongside school, work, and friends—remains tremendously appealing.

A rollicking and readable demon- and dragon-haunted memoir of an old soul in the modern world.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bookfuel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 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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