Just the thing for fans of punk—and of its heroines, too.



Guitar hero and world-weary survivor Albertine turns in a thoughtful, delightfully written memoir of the days of punky yore.

The title owes to the author’s long-suffering mother, who lamented, in the glitter-and-glam days that preceded punk, that all her daughter cared about was fashion, rock and lads. As she turns 60, Albertine shows no signs of diminishing interest in any of those things, though she’s decidedly had enough of being told what to do and, more to the point, what girls can’t do: namely, play rock music along with the boys. Having done service for years as the guitarist for The Slits (not her first choice of names, she allows), Albertine, like her erstwhile boyfriend Mick Jones, revels in broad and eclectic musical tastes, but the one-two-three-four blasts of three chords and 1977 clearly command her allegiance. In celebrating that music, Albertine is sometimes bittersweet, for many of her comrades have since fallen, including Ari Up, Poly Styrene and Malcolm McLaren, who’s treated more kindly than in many other accounts. When the music ended, Albertine retreated into a marriage that became loveless and frustrating over its long course; she also survived motherhood and cancer. Throughout it all, she has resisted being told that she can’t do anything she wishes to, including write: “My so-called ‘manager,’ who in all the six months he’s been ‘managing’ me has never once come to one of my gigs, is now telling me that I’m a shit writer and can’t write a book about my own life.” We’re glad to tell the manager that he was wrong about the writing (and should have come to the gigs, too), for Albertine’s book belongs alongside the work of Jon Savage and Caroline Coon as a primary document of an explosive time in British music and British culture generally.

Just the thing for fans of punk—and of its heroines, too.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-06599-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2014

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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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