An engagingly written, if sometimes self-indulgent, book on appropriate behavior.

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MANLY MANNERS

THE CULTIVATION OF THE INNER, SPIRITUAL GENTLEMAN

James (Manly Manners: Lifestyle & Modern Etiquette for the Young Man of the 21st Century, 2016) offers his second, ethics-focused volume in his etiquette series.

In his first installment of the Manly Manners trilogy, James expressed a belief that there’s an appropriate way to go about every aspect of human interaction. In this second book, he dives deeper to explore the ethical questions that underlie etiquette, providing moral grounding to what would otherwise be empty rituals. “The physical pain caused by a slap to the face begins subsiding in seconds; the emotional pain from that same slap, however, may endure a lifetime,” he notes. From this perspective, the author goes into the proper ways that a gentleman should approach relationships, from breaking up with a romantic partner to maintaining platonic friendships. He also examines the qualities that exist at the heart of a true gentleman, and even delves a bit into his own interpretation of Christianity. James lets the reader in on what he calls the “14 Deadly Sins”—seven of “Control,” including child abuse, domestic violence, and revenge, and seven of “Insecurity,” such as idleness, substance abuse, and intolerance. He also details the “Eight A-Attitudes” that provide a gentleman with the proper outlook on life, such as “Be good, not just fair,” and “Plan for the future, but enjoy the present.” He concludes this relatively short volume with practical and philosophical advice on finding one’s proper profession and on the particulars of marriage. As in the previous volume, James writes in a heightened, mannered language that feels appropriate to his topic. However, it sometimes veers toward self-parody; for example, each chapter opens with an epigraph by the author himself doing his best Oscar Wilde impression (“For a sex-worker, the real orgasm is fiscal, not physical”; “There is less to him than meets the eye…”), which distracts to some extent. James’ advice is generally useful, however, and firmly based in established traditions. Even if doesn’t all feel completely relevant to the current culture, none of tips are so old-fashioned as to be offensive.

An engagingly written, if sometimes self-indulgent, book on appropriate behavior.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5320-2818-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2018

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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