Patterson covers all the bases—an essential book for studious fans of Heinlein, with valuable lessons for anyone hoping to...

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ROBERT A. HEINLEIN

IN DIALOGUE WITH HIS CENTURY VOLUME 2: THE MAN WHO LEARNED BETTER

Second and concluding volume of Patterson’s wide-ranging biography of the renowned science-fiction author.

As Patterson (Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve, 2010) notes, Robert Heinlein (1907-1988) did not limit himself to what was then a small, if growing, genre of popular fiction. By the early 1950s, “he was in boys’ and girls’ markets, books, pulp, and film, all at the same time”—part of a concerted, thoroughly thought-through effort to free himself from the pulps while making a living as a writer. Patterson is well-versed in the Heinlein oeuvre, and a significant contribution of his biography is to place Heinlein’s works in the context of his life and the evolution of his politics. As Heinlein was writing his best-known books, among them Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) and Starship Troopers (1959), he was making a political arc from beyond–New Deal Democrat to right-of-Goldwater Republican, a transformation helped by a second marriage to an activist conservative. Though he was friendly with L. Ron Hubbard, he resisted taking the path into invented religion and instead used his fiction to explore philosophical questions of meaning (one reason that Stranger became such a hit in the ’60s counterculture). The ’50s, Patterson reveals, were lucrative and satisfying for Heinlein in some respects, though the ground was always shifting; his Hollywood period closed with a thud when the production company he worked with closed its doors. He was on firmer footing in the ’60s, and though reviewers were often antagonistic (Patterson quotes a few, including some from this publication, that were friendly but more that were not), his books did well—encouraging fan mail that, as Patterson recounts, was full of detailed questions “about everything from economics to where Robert parted his hair.”

Patterson covers all the bases—an essential book for studious fans of Heinlein, with valuable lessons for anyone hoping to make a living with the pen.

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-1961-6

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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