The book could have been trimmed by about 50 pages, but Hart is a genial, entertaining guide to a life in comedy.

I CAN'T MAKE THIS UP

LIFE LESSONS

The popular comedian debuts with “the stories behind the jokes, and a few lessons…about life, success, parenting, and relationships.”

In his first book, Hart spares little detail about his personal and profession life. He chronicles his childhood with an absent father and protective mother, his toxic first marriage, and his rise to fame, punctuating each section with a lesson. Growing up in Philadelphia, the author wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. He watched his brother get kicked out of the house for selling drugs and being violent with his mother, experiences that reverberated through his teen years. His mother worked hard to give her children a decent life, and she kept Hart busy with after-school activities to make sure he was never alone to get into trouble like his brother. He assumed his mother’s work ethic and diligence, and when he found stand-up comedy, it consumed him. Unfortunately, while he was pursuing his dream, shuttling between Philadelphia and New York, his relationship with Torrei, his first love and first wife, suffered. Comedy nerds will love the details about the author’s climb up the ladder, and the sections on his adopted family at the Comedy Cellar and his relationship with fellow comedian Keith Robinson give great insight into the life of a comic who is constantly working to get better. There are some nasty personal details about Hart’s relationship with Torrei and how, according to him, it became mutually abusive, ever more so with the pressure of an advancing career and children. Some of the author’s lessons border on platitudes—e.g., believe in yourself, shrug off the bad stuff and move forward—and the tales about how he learned these things sometimes render the breakdowns at the ends of the sections unnecessary. But Hart is an incredibly magnetic storyteller, on the page as he is onstage, and that’s what shines through here.

The book could have been trimmed by about 50 pages, but Hart is a genial, entertaining guide to a life in comedy. 

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5556-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: 37 Ink/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 9, 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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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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