A provocative and entrancing autobiography that’s both titillating and authentic.

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A PLAYER'S TALE

A debut memoir chronicles the sexual coming-of-age of an early-21st-century playboy.

In his book, the author uses the pseudonym A Young Don Juan in order “to make my story universal” and to intensively explore the impact that sex had on his youth. After a cerebral introduction, the fun begins as Don Juan smoothly moves into the details of his childhood “pre-erection days” with first crushes and female acts of coddling that translated into a “Freudian sense of sex” for him. An adolescent of divorced parents, the author satisfied his voyeuristic urges by spying on his aunt undressing and perusing Playboy magazines. But when it came time to make contact with the opposite sex, pessimism about his looks dampened any enthusiasm. Eventually, Don Juan’s outlook changed by age 15 when a girl named Christine captivated him and then broke his heart. After losing his virginity in a massage parlor, he felt his testosterone surge, and his college years found him searching “for connection through sex like a dog looking for companionship in the trees he marks.” Traveling abroad opened his eyes to enthralling cultures where desire was openly expressed. During these trips, the author formed his own impressions about the people, places, and cultural differences he encountered as well as reflecting on the nature of human desire, the complexities of liaisons with married women, and the raw power of an “over-ripe libido.” At 18, Don Juan was told by a sexually satisfied nanny that he “had the makings of becoming a great lover,” a confidence booster that led to further erotic dalliances, from Manhattan to Paris to Thailand. Love temporarily broke up the libidinous episodes, but he soon rebounded with riskier sexual escapades in places like bathroom stalls and apartment stoops. The author’s writing is regal, intelligent, social media contemporary, and provocative without becoming raunchy. Still, the prose can sometimes be too precious and gilded for the raw extremes of the subject matter, which eventually runs out of steam. But not before Don Juan recounts that he finally realized it was “time to grow up” and his intriguing ruminations turn inward toward the spiritual and mystical. Readers who enjoy erotic accounts written from a unique, cleverly intuitive perspective and spiced with a pungent, feverish hedonism will be pleased to discover the heady material blossoming in the pages of this candid memoir.

A provocative and entrancing autobiography that’s both titillating and authentic.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5320-8548-2

Page Count: 214

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

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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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