An inspiring philanthropic account that deftly displays the author’s affability, knowledge, and passion.

THE 24-HOUR SOUP KITCHEN

SOUL-STIRRING LESSONS IN GASTROPHILANTHROPY

A New York–based journalist recounts his experiences in some of the world’s soup kitchens in this debut memoir.

Henderson was in France on a mission to buy an “absurdly expensive oven” when he was asked if he had ever come across the Frenchman Alexis Soyer, who became Victorian Britain’s most celebrated chef. Learning about Soyer, inventor of the soup kitchen, inspired the author to begin his own “gastrophilanthropic” journey. Interested in feeding large numbers of people but with no professional training, Henderson began utilizing his journalistic expeditions as a way of learning more. When visiting Delhi to write an article about India’s fashion week, he discovered that Sikh temples “operate 24-hour soup kitchens.” He later completed a five-day apprenticeship at one such kitchen. The author’s travels also took him to Iran, where he learned about nazr, a spiritual vow that can involve “voluntarily cooking for others.” Henderson then made his own vow to volunteer at a soup kitchen in Pittsburgh to celebrate each year that his niece completed in her Ph.D. program. The memoir details his experiences in Japan, where he stayed at a Buddhist temple; Mexico, where he cooked a meal for a group of “homeless street kids and transgendered sex workers”; Peru; Israel; and South Korea. The author also discusses volunteering at soup kitchens across America.

Henderson’s writing bubbles with enthusiasm. When describing feeding a group of seemingly nonchalant youths at a shelter in Los Angeles, he writes: “What I saw…over the next hour was how a home-cooked meal can transform a roomful of sullen teenagers into a group of cheerful children.” His narrative is also woven with a wealth of background data that underlines the gravity of the homelessness crisis: “It’s also estimated that there may be between one million and three million homeless children currently living on the streets in the United States.” The author’s delightful descriptive skills that often draw on culinary metaphors add a sprinkling of levity to a serious subject (a road in the Andes is depicted as having the “consistency of pudding” and an Israeli tour guide had “hair dyed a shade of red best described as ‘medium rare’ ”). Henderson is conscious of how his approach to “gastrophilanthropy” is viewed by others. He candidly reveals that one friend referred to his journeys as “magical misery tours” whereas another nicknamed him “His Holiness” behind his back. Unafraid to introduce a broad range of perspectives to the memoir, the author admits that “making a meal is, after all, an imposition of your taste onto someone else.” He intelligently defends his position on feeding the poor, drawing on the French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s proposal that “charity is based on income inequity.” Henderson boldly dismisses this explanation as “a clever intellectual’s rationale for doing nothing.” The author draws courage from how his idol, Soyer, was also derided for his acts of charity but endeavored to make a change regardless. This book would benefit from a more determined effort to smoothly segue between chapters; it occasionally reads as a series of independent essays that do not fit together. But this detracts little from a graceful, well-balanced, and enlightening work.

An inspiring philanthropic account that deftly displays the author’s affability, knowledge, and passion.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63576-706-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Radius Book Group

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Fans will blissfully revel in the intimate if restlessly delivered details in this perceptive memoir.

THE BEAUTY OF LIVING TWICE

The celebrated actor reflects on a life of success, activism, and cleansing self-discovery.

Stone (b. 1958) begins in the hospital in 2001, when a severe brain injury nearly ended her life. She then backtracks to her youth growing up with three siblings in the “snowbelt” of northwestern Pennsylvania. She excelled at school but distanced herself from an aloof, damaged mother, a woman who never had a chance “to imagine a life where she could be whatever she chose.” As a teenager, Stone waited tables while entering local beauty pageants, which led to Manhattan modeling jobs and a move to Hollywood in the early 1980s. The author breaks down her iconic roles in Basic Instinct and Casino. Regarding the controversial interrogation scene in the former, she writes, “there have been many points of view…but since I’m the one with the vagina in question, let me say: the other points of view are bullshit.” While sharing a host of madcap episodes throughout an eventful life, she also proudly describes her impressive “life of service,” her Buddhist faith, and the adoptions of three sons. She also contributes juicier stories about co-hosting the 2008 Cannes Film Festival with Madonna and the controversy that erupted following a stray comment to reporters. Stone then moves on to her “second life,” when she endured “the loss of all things we call dear,” including her father, marriage, health, and financial security. Though the memoir is unevenly, frenetically narrated, that will only deter readers unfamiliar with Stone’s persona. Delivering a barrage of self-reflective anecdotes, she is consistently candid, alternatingly tender and feisty, and always witty. In conclusion, Stone offers thoughts on wisdom, modesty, and vulnerability as well as some startling admissions about “being sexually abused throughout my life.” Encouragingly, Stone has reconciled with her mother. “Today,” she writes, “my mother and I are at the beginning of our relationship.”

Fans will blissfully revel in the intimate if restlessly delivered details in this perceptive memoir.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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