Winning blend of headbanging trivia and adolescent fantasia.



Amusing, sweetly ramshackle compendium of a British lad’s heavy-metal memories.

Londoner Hunter’s debut traipses through the cultural funhouse of the 1980s, an era when sleazy, parent-offending metal achieved mainstream prominence. He recalls the enthusiasm first ignited by AC/DC’s “Let’s Get it Up,” when he was ten: “The world suddenly became three dimensional and my ears popped open.” The accessible lasciviousness of AC/DC and KISS provided Hunter with a valuable template, offering this clueless, nerdy adolescent a darker world of rebellion and sexuality. His dreary education became subordinate to his telescoping obsessions with bands like Judas Priest and Manowar, and after learning three guitar chords, he formed his first metal band, the comically inept Armageddon’s Ring. Hunter writes in a digressive style that allows him to track metal’s development from the decayed dreams of the late ’60s, which produced angry powerhouses like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, to the time of his immersion in the genre, when the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” was ascendant and iconoclastic, imaginative bands like Iron Maiden transcended cult status to become a commercial force. Hunter examines metal’s secret language, encoded in strangely shaped guitars, overwrought soloing, and obscure tour T-shirts, a knowledge key to young fans’ snobbish allegiances. He alternates these passages (and tangential narratives regarding the international thrash/death-metal underground) with the tale of his stumbling musical ambitions. Hunter dropped out of school at 16 and grew his hair obsessively while laboring in bands like eXposed, Noise Royale, and Rag’n’Bones, whose misadventures ricochet off the big time but do make for droll reading. Although the narrative covers territory familiar from previous metal memoirs like Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City (2001), Hunter’s may be the funniest yet: his self-deprecating British humor highlights the absurdities inherent in the self-serious gloss of metal’s performers and fans capable of remarking with a straight face about Metallica, “What a silly name. . . . They won’t last long.”

Winning blend of headbanging trivia and adolescent fantasia.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-072292-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2004

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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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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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