A thoughtful memoir of rams and ewes, farmers and family, life and death.

SHEPHERD

A MEMOIR

Trading his town shoes for work boots, pasture farmer Gilbert (Writing/Otterbein Univ.) contemplates nature’s works and his own efforts in his chronicle of raising sheep.

The author, his wife and their two children spent a decade breeding and selling sheep on the family homestead in Appalachian Ohio. Gilbert had a day job at a university press, and his wife was the university provost, but the farm was his obsession. Not at all a bromidic gentleman farmer, he was earnestly hands-on and farmed for profit. Though yearly profits, if any, were scant, he loved his farm and its resident animals. Gilbert ruminates warmly on his artisanal flock, seeing the hidden beauty of his sheep. He also recalls his collection of farm implements: an old post pounder, a used cultivator, a small tractor—accompaniments to the never-ending work that was especially backbreaking for someone with a day job in town. Gilbert is especially astute in his portrayals of his Appalachian neighbors, who were mostly good folk. His farm logs are studies in animal husbandry, proper fencing, house building, birth and decay. His prose is pungent: In a sheep barn, he notes, the air was humid with an amalgam of “mellow musk, tangy manure, bitter urine, sweet hay.” He writes of digging out aged offal, of tenant rats, and of the hundreds of natural shocks that man and beast may encounter. His bank balances diminished as he, in an effort to become a successful farmer, consulted his Sheep Production Handbook or the latest issue of The Stockman Grass Farmer. In a sometimes-earthy, sometimes-prolix and ultimately sagacious elegy, Gilbert speaks of descent into pain and fear as well as of the beauty of bucolic nature and the diverse traits of agrarian man.

A thoughtful memoir of rams and ewes, farmers and family, life and death.

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61186-117-4

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Michigan State Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

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?

more