A charming, but bumpy recollection of a writer’s love of his work.


Persistence, Then Peace


A memoir recounts a life of tribulations and wordsmithery.

Mach (The Invisible Twins, 2015, etc.) was a precocious youngster, and like so many authors, discovered his love of the written word through voracious reading. He wrote a novel before he even finished high school fashioned in Baroque style (he includes an excerpt), and despite his failure to publish it, a lifetime of devotion to the craft was sparked. Mach received an MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and spent the bulk of his professional career as a market research analyst and business writer. He also tried his hand at several entrepreneurial ventures, and taught advertising and business writing at San Jose State University in California. He experienced some jolts of authorial success—in 1977 he was invited to join the well-regarded California Writer’s Club, and in 1981 he published an article that graced the cover of Writer’s Digest. He trudged through a period of troubles that lasted for nearly 10 years, grappling with serious financial challenges, a cancer scare, his inability to publish a novel he was proud of, and problems finding employment (at one point, he donned a Santa Claus outfit for money). He clashed with a business partner (he briefly owned and operated an ice cream business), and was sued for a substantial sum. All the while, Mach discusses his experiences as creative fodder for future writing, always mining his life for inspiration. His prospects eventually improved, and he found both solace and guidance in religion, not to mention some success as an indie author. This is a quirky and sometimes meandering remembrance, and bears the stamp of a business writer; Mach loves to include bullet-pointed lists cataloging everything from his personal trials to the market research projects he’s written. Mach, a prolific author, lists and excerpts his own work liberally. Unfortunately, the writing, especially for an author’s recollection, is uneven at best. Mach recalls teaching a writing seminar: “I showed attendees how to open up their creative channels so they can come up with methods for sparking new ways to thinking about their writing—whether it be a novel, article, or advertising copy.” In addition, Mach’s account is too idiosyncratic and personal to be of universal import; its primary value will be to those who know and love him.

A charming, but bumpy recollection of a writer’s love of his work. 

Pub Date: May 5, 2016


Page Count: 290

Publisher: Hill Song Press

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2016

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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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