A vivid interpretation of the life of a remarkable musician perfect for “anyone who’s ever struggled to express themselves.”


A mostly wordless illustrated tribute to a celebrated yet doomed jazz musician.

In this unconventional graphic biography, Canadian cartoonist and illustrator Chantler chronicles the life of legendary 1920s musician Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke (1903-1931). Calling him the “unlikeliest of jazz heroes,” the author re-creates the musician’s life through a series of cartoon panels that relate events from previous biographies, varying in interpretation and reliability. Chantler’s drawings chronicle Beiderbecke’s childhood in World War–era Iowa, where he was raised by critical, conservative parents. The story then moves to his boyhood, when his love of music and harmonic jazz melodies blossomed, particularly after hearing it live from a passing river steamboat. Though his schooling suffered, he matured as a mostly self-taught musician, scoring gigs with local bands and garnering regional notoriety. Inspired by Louis Armstrong, Bix rose to prominence as an outstanding jazz pianist and cornetist. However, chronic alcohol dependency would lead to his death at age 28. Chantler’s treatment of the musician’s life is distinctly creative, capturing moods through facial expressions and tightly detailed panels. In the brief introduction, the author readily admits that several scenes in the book are “apocryphal at best,” but he notes that the silent nature of its contents and the manner in which Bix’s life is portrayed reflects the struggle of many hypercreative, misunderstood artists (himself included) to express themselves in terms outside of the art they create. His experimental visualization of musical rhythms in scenes depicting Bix’s career high points is a marvel of imaginative illustrated narration. Chantler poignantly notes that the book was drawn during a devastating upheaval in his own personal life and that sketching it served as a “life raft for my battered sense of self.” This biographical storybook is a unique keepsake for jazz fans.

A vivid interpretation of the life of a remarkable musician perfect for “anyone who’s ever struggled to express themselves.”

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9078-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Gallery 13/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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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 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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