An affecting testimonial to the power of action and of storytelling—to say nothing of a good right hook—to make real change.

12 ROUNDS IN LO'S GYM

BOXING AND MANHOOD IN APPALACHIA

Spirited memoir of life in a West Virginia backwater, where fight clubs keep youngsters from going off the rails.

It was a kid named Noah Milton—or maybe “his name was Noah and he was from Milton, West Virginia”—who was, writes Snyder (Rhetoric and Writing/Siena Coll.; The Rhetoric of Appalachian Identity, 2014), “the first person to kick my ass.” It wouldn’t be the last ass-kicking he received at the hands of beefy rednecks while standing up to his opponents in the rings of his father’s gym. He got knocked down, and he got up, always remembering his dad’s advice: “when you crawl through the ropes, you can’t hide from the truth,” whether it reveals you to be a fighter or a coward. Steeped in English literature, Snyder views the contest through a refined lens. While thinking of Beowulf, for instance, he recounts one neighbor, a “dope-smoking hippy” who bought the ring where Larry Holmes fought a storied bout, then had it painted red. A college friend is likened to Frankenstein’s monster, and he to the good doctor himself, since Snyder, delivered from temptation by virtue of logging time wailing the tar out of his contemporaries, was teaching the young man his tricks. “He was the type of guy who’d find a fight if one didn’t come looking for him,” writes the author appreciatively. Snyder has succeeded in melding the worlds of literature and the sweet science. As he writes, his first college essay was on how Joe Louis figured in Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, even as his father, who hit on the idea of boxing as a means of warding off juvenile delinquency, earned honor for his contributions at Lo’s Gym. Though the circumstances and surroundings are grim in meth-lab coal country, Snyder retains a pleasing but not Pollyannaish optimism throughout.

An affecting testimonial to the power of action and of storytelling—to say nothing of a good right hook—to make real change.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946684-12-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: West Virginia Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more