A breezy guide that takes readers inside the sometimes hair-raising world of do-it-yourself filmmaking, capturing its many...


DETOUR: Hollywood


An instructional manual on film directing, inspired by the making of a “microbudget” movie.

It might seem impossible to make a feature-length movie about a man trapped inside a car by a mudslide on a budget of only $40,000. However, Dickerson did just that, and he turned the experience of directing the film Detour into a book that’s both an enlightening primer for filmmakers and a behind-the-scenes memoir. The author treads somewhat in the footsteps of William Goldman’s landmark book Adventures in the Screen Trade (1983) as he lays out the laborious process of putting together a screenplay, using scenes from such films as Mulholland Drive (2001), Witness (1985), Taxi Driver (1976), and Schindler’s List (1993) as examples. Having previously made several short films, he envisioned Detour as a “minimalist action film,” initially intending to make it for only $10,000 in a garage, “using a junker that I would buy on Craigslist and a whole lot of dirt.” He runs into some “financing follies,” however, that tie him up for some two years and educate him about the dangers of being “seduced” by Hollywood. Like biting into a coconut, he warns his readers, “you’ll find it’s impenetrable, and your attempt futile, no matter how badly you want inside of it.” Once filming begins, Dickerson dishes out intriguing insider info for would-be directors—it’s a good idea, for example, to pick up a box of doughnuts on the way to the set no matter what your budget is. He also effectively details the creative and technical challenges he faced, such as how he completely buried actor Neil Hopkins in mud and how he found a reasonable facsimile of a dead bird. “It’s vital to never lose sight of that DIY mentality that compelled you to write and make the movie in the first place,” he advises. Detour eventually got its premiere at the famous Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. It was a vindication of Dickerson’s belief, shown throughout this book, that, by using digital video and other tools, “We can all make, and release, a movie.”

A breezy guide that takes readers inside the sometimes hair-raising world of do-it-yourself filmmaking, capturing its many frustrations and challenges.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Kettle of Letters Press

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.


Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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