An eloquent, detailed tribute to a less well-known but inspiring author.

READ REVIEW

THE FIELD HOUSE

A WRITER’S LIFE LOST AND FOUND ON AN ISLAND IN MAINE

A writer explores her personal connections to author Rachel Field.

“Something happens during the writing of a biography that feels a lot like falling in love,” Wood writes in her prologue, explaining her intense drive to tell the story of Field, a Newbery Award–winning novelist and poet active in the early 20th century. After purchasing Field’s summer home on Sutton Island, Maine, Wood found herself surrounded by Field’s last remaining possessions and “lingering wisps of [her] creative energy.” Through meticulous research, Wood uses letters and poems to reconstruct Field’s life, from her childhood at the turn of the century to her hard-won success as a children’s author. Field’s childhood in an illustrious family provided inspiration for her legacy, but it was her unrequited love for a gay Southern gentleman and insecurities about her appearance that Wood believes inspired Field’s best poems and her “wonderful” adult novel Time out of Mind (1935), which earned a Kirkus Star, both somewhat overlooked following her death. Field would eventually find love and relocate to California, witnessing the early, bustling days of Hollywood. She tried to build a family until her untimely and surprising death. Interwoven throughout this story are letters directly from Wood to Field detailing her unfaltering admiration and how Field’s story took Wood on her own journeys across the country and on to finding her own voice as a writer. Wood makes some admirable attempts to take some critical distance from Field. She provides insightful analysis of Field’s work, discusses the two women’s similar, yet vastly different, struggles over career and family, and even addresses Field’s privilege and seemingly racist remarks. But Wood always returns to effusive, consistent admiration for her subject matter. Readers may not walk away with the same devotion and excitement that Wood desperately wants to share, but her passionate prose and carefully curated primary sources will certainly convince readers that Field is not a writer to overlook.

An eloquent, detailed tribute to a less well-known but inspiring author.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64742-045-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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