An enriching study for the novel’s many devoted readers.

READ REVIEW

IN SEARCH OF THE COLOR PURPLE

THE STORY OF AN AMERICAN MASTERPIECE

A close look at the genesis, impact, and transformation of a beloved novel.

Melding memoir, biography, and cultural criticism, Tillet, a professor, activist, and scholar of African American studies, uses Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple, published in 1982, as a mirror for portraying Black women’s experiences in American life over nearly 40 years. In conversations with Tillet, Walker spoke candidly about her early years, literary influences, and the challenges she faced in getting published; after sending an excerpt to Essence magazine, for example, she received a terse reply: “Black people don’t talk like that.” Although the novel was awarded both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, it incited considerable controversy, not only for Walker’s use of Black dialect, but also “its celebration of lesbianism. The harshest criticism,” Tillet discovered, “came from other writers, mainly black men who accused Walker of reproducing racist stereotypes of them as hyperviolent rapists.” It was precisely Walker’s portrayal of violence to which Tillet, twice a victim of sexual assault, responded, and through her research, she found many others—including Oprah Winfrey—“who came across the book at such vulnerable points in their lives that the book became a talisman, with every subsequent return to it a way of marking time and healing wounds.” Tillet draws deftly on published and archival sources as well as interviews, including talks with Oprah, who made her screen debut in Steven Spielberg’s film of the novel, which received 11 Oscar nominations; and Scott Sanders, who brought the novel to Broadway as a musical, where it was nominated for multiple Tony awards. Because of the novel’s groundbreaking themes of sexual assault, same-sex desire, and the linking of sexism, racism, and classism, Walker, Tillet asserts, became “the face of black feminism,” an accolade with which Gloria Steinem, in an appreciative foreword, concurs.

An enriching study for the novel’s many devoted readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

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