Admitting that she has been obsessed with Brando since she was a teenager, Mizruchi paints a sympathetic and respectful...

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BRANDO'S SMILE

HIS LIFE, THOUGHT, AND WORK

According to his latest biographer, Marlon Brando (1924-2004) was a voracious reader, social activist and insightful actor.

Mizruchi (English/Boston Univ.; The Rise of Multicultural America, 2008, etc.) bases her study on considerable new sources: Brando’s huge library of annotated books, film scripts and research notes, as well as interviews with friends and family members. “I can report,” she writes, “that Brando’s hunger for knowledge was as insatiable as his more legendary appetites for women and food.” She believes that Brando was a victim of sexism; his good looks and gossip about “the endless women and romantic affairs” led to his being stereotyped as an intellectual lightweight. Mizruchi argues that he was a serious student of philosophy, literature, history, and Western and Eastern religions. In the 1950s, as his reputation was established by performances in A Streetcar Named Desire and On The Waterfront, his reading became “focused on three main areas: comparative philosophy and religion; Asian cultures, including their histories, languages, and arts; and social scientific theory (politics and psychology in particular).” His readings, Mizruchi asserts, influenced his choice of roles, in which he hoped to convey some social or political message. Although he was chided for outspoken political views that some deemed naïve, the author claims that Brando consciously “treated his celebrity as a means to public ends.” His causes included Native American rights, civil rights for African-Americans, UNICEF and the environment. Mizruchi chronicles Brando’s career, highlighting his deliberations over roles, his profuse annotations of scripts and his efforts to deeply understand his characters. Even when he took parts just for the money, “Brando sought to balance lucrative projects against those he did for idealistic purposes.”

Admitting that she has been obsessed with Brando since she was a teenager, Mizruchi paints a sympathetic and respectful portrait of a man far different from the self-absorbed, self-indulgent one who emerges in other biographies.

Pub Date: June 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-393-08286-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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