A comprehensive and idiosyncratic guide to male etiquette in the modern world.

MANLY MANNERS

LIFESTYLE & MODERN ETIQUETTE FOR THE YOUNG MAN OF THE 21ST CENTURY

Debut author James offers young men advice on how to comport themselves in this self-help guide.

For fashion designer and former U.S. Virgin Islands senator James, proper behavior and presentation are the signifiers of a true gentleman. This book, modeled after classic etiquette guides, such as William O. Stevens’s The Correct Thing (1938) and Amy Vanderbilt’s New Complete Book of Etiquette (1963), seeks to provide up-to-date instruction for contemporary men while also attempting to “chart new territory, in some instances addressing topics that would have been regarded as taboo by previous generations.” In chapter after detailed chapter, James offers comprehensive insight into the etiquette surrounding hygiene, sex, table manners, bathrooms, conversation, dating, entertaining, dressing, going out in public, traveling, and even planning a wedding. The author covers everything from the correct order for guests to enter a formal dining room to how to fashion an improvised bidet to what a gentleman should do if he finds himself sexually aroused during a therapeutic massage. With many accompanying diagrams and lists—including the Wayne James Continuum of Human Sexuality, the Seven Elements of Internal Beauty, and dossiers on various cultures around the globe—the author provides a polymathic description of the world for people who wish to experience it to the fullest in a gentlemanly fashion. That said, the book is more than 800 pages long, including the index, and characterized by an unrelenting tendency to catalog things. The chapter on planning a wedding, for example, could be a book by itself, with a 44-page section dedicated solely to properly addressing invitations. Even the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book take up 16 pages. (What’s more, this is only the first book in a planned trilogy.) Even so, James’ encyclopedic knowledge of many topics, his ornately mannered prose, and even his winking tone of self-aggrandizement (each chapter has an epigraph attributed to James himself) are all effective contributions. Etiquette is ultimately about appreciating the rich tapestry of human experience, and James enthusiastically delights in its minutiae.

A comprehensive and idiosyncratic guide to male etiquette in the modern world. 

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4917-9427-2

Page Count: 840

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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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 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 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

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