An often engaging and intimate remembrance.

TO HAIR AND BACK

MY JOURNEY TOWARD SELF-LOVE ONE STRAND AT A TIME

A woman explores how her hair has shaped her identity in this memoir.

Eason (Man for Hire, 2015, etc.) is ordinarily a romance novelist, but in this book, she tells of her longtime affinity for the romance of beautiful, billowing hair. For many women, the concept of beauty is inextricably bound up with the idea of long, luxurious locks. The African-American author grew up with her mother, two older half sisters, and grandmother in 1980s Detroit. As a young girl, she had a head of “kinky” hair that simply would not fall at a vertical angle, and she became obsessed with the idea of “good” hair, which she found difficult to define. Painful braiding and at-home hair-relaxing kits, which burned her scalp and caused strands of her hair to break off, plagued her adolescence. As Eason’s hair-care methods became more sophisticated, her search for the perfect style—the “hairstyle that expressed who I was in that moment”—carried into her adult life, through different careers and boyfriends, from her time serving in the military overseas to her fresh start pursuing an acting career in New York City. But eventually, Eason was forced to ask herself, “Why?” When the communal pursuit of perfect hair started to affect the physical and emotional health of herself and those around her, Eason had to come to terms with her preoccupation. The first half of this book, covering the author’s childhood and early teenage years, brilliantly and colorfully combines her life story with her relationship to her hair, examining the intricacies and cultural context of the latter while never sacrificing the exciting storytelling elements of the former. Readers get to know the vile young boys at her elementary school, the heartbreaking and infuriating personality quirks of her mother and grandmother, and the distinct personalities of her sisters. As the memoir progresses into Eason’s adulthood, however, it loses this breadth of characters. Nonetheless, Eason’s prose remains impeccable and charming—quaint and quick but never wandering into whimsical territory—and this refreshing voice carries the book to its conclusion with momentum.

An often engaging and intimate remembrance.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2017

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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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