Memoir as confession—a powerful, psychologically astute work of self-examination and remembrance.

THE COPENHAGEN TRILOGY

CHILDHOOD; YOUTH; DEPENDENCY

The noted Danish novelist and poet delivers a rueful, self-excoriating account of a life of self-doubt, misery, and addiction.

“I do whatever I can to please him, because I’m so thankful he married me. Although I know something still isn’t quite right, I carefully avoid thinking about that.” So writes Ditlevsen in the third part of this autobiographical trilogy, written between 1969 and 1971. It’s not so much that she was dependent on the men in her life, none of them quite right for her, but instead on the drugs and alcohol that overtook her. One partner who injected her muttered that her veins were clogging up, adding, “Maybe we can find one in your foot.” Ditlevsen traces an unhappy present—much of the later narrative is set at the time of the German defeat in World War II, the streets of Denmark’s capital full of child soldiers in Wehrmacht uniforms—to a childhood of discouragement (her father insisted that “a girl can’t be a poet”) and a youth in which she was convinced that she was “condemned to loneliness and anonymity.” For all the self-doubt and later chemical abuse, however, she did rise as a poet even if getting published was full of the usual roadblocks—and more, as when she writes that an editor who accepted her work “pats me on the behind, absent-mindedly and mechanically.” A rare humorous moment comes when, after drunkenly choking down a fistful of methadone pills, she asks the visiting English writer Evelyn Waugh what brought him to Denmark: “He answered that he always took trips around the world when his children were home on vacation from boarding school, because he couldn’t stand them.” Given the mostly grim revelations in her book, it’s small wonder that Ditlevsen came to an unhappy end, though not before publishing some of the most memorable works in modern Danish literature.

Memoir as confession—a powerful, psychologically astute work of self-examination and remembrance.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-3746-0239-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Fans will blissfully revel in the intimate if restlessly delivered details in this perceptive memoir.

THE BEAUTY OF LIVING TWICE

The celebrated actor reflects on a life of success, activism, and cleansing self-discovery.

Stone (b. 1958) begins in the hospital in 2001, when a severe brain injury nearly ended her life. She then backtracks to her youth growing up with three siblings in the “snowbelt” of northwestern Pennsylvania. She excelled at school but distanced herself from an aloof, damaged mother, a woman who never had a chance “to imagine a life where she could be whatever she chose.” As a teenager, Stone waited tables while entering local beauty pageants, which led to Manhattan modeling jobs and a move to Hollywood in the early 1980s. The author breaks down her iconic roles in Basic Instinct and Casino. Regarding the controversial interrogation scene in the former, she writes, “there have been many points of view…but since I’m the one with the vagina in question, let me say: the other points of view are bullshit.” While sharing a host of madcap episodes throughout an eventful life, she also proudly describes her impressive “life of service,” her Buddhist faith, and the adoptions of three sons. She also contributes juicier stories about co-hosting the 2008 Cannes Film Festival with Madonna and the controversy that erupted following a stray comment to reporters. Stone then moves on to her “second life,” when she endured “the loss of all things we call dear,” including her father, marriage, health, and financial security. Though the memoir is unevenly, frenetically narrated, that will only deter readers unfamiliar with Stone’s persona. Delivering a barrage of self-reflective anecdotes, she is consistently candid, alternatingly tender and feisty, and always witty. In conclusion, Stone offers thoughts on wisdom, modesty, and vulnerability as well as some startling admissions about “being sexually abused throughout my life.” Encouragingly, Stone has reconciled with her mother. “Today,” she writes, “my mother and I are at the beginning of our relationship.”

Fans will blissfully revel in the intimate if restlessly delivered details in this perceptive memoir.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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