Poignant and passionate look at the city church, inside the walls and out.

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CITY OF GOD

FAITH IN THE STREETS

Account of an unusual urban Ash Wednesday.

San Francisco Food Pantry founder and director Miles (Jesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the Dead, 2010, etc.) shares her experiences and musings from Ash Wednesday in 2012. A resident of San Francisco’s Mission District, the author encounters a level of diversity within a few blocks of her home and church that rivals almost any other urban neighborhood in America. It is within such a setting that she goes about the job of ministering, under the auspices of an Episcopal church, to the larger community. Much of her story is a lead-up to her journey outside the confines of church walls, when she took the ashes of Ash Wednesday out into the neighborhood, offering ashes on the street corners throughout her neighborhood. Despite her anxieties about this very public celebration of liturgy, the event turned out to be a joyous and touching experience. Miles is deeply committed to her urban neighborhood and toward radical involvement in the life of the city. In fact, everywhere she looks, she is reminded of “the movement,” a waning countercultural thrust spawning everything from socialist bookstores to gay street patrols. Given the nontraditional backdrop of the Mission, Miles’ Episcopal chants and rituals seem out of place and even jarring, yet everywhere she went on this Ash Wednesday, she was met by people eager to partake in the ceremony. Along the way, she introduces colorful characters, both from the fringes of society and from the depths of San Francisco activism. An intriguing read, Miles’ account will resonate most with those who live in and love the inner city. Though the author recognizes that religious experiences are global and varied, she is unapologetic in proclaiming, “for me, it’s cities that make the presence of God most real.”

Poignant and passionate look at the city church, inside the walls and out.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4555-4731-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Jericho Books/Hachette

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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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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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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