RaveThe Guardian (UK)...[a] lucid and riveting new biography, which at once rescues Kierkegaard from the scholars and makes it abundantly clear why he is such an intriguing and useful figure: that we want, above all, to be reassured about our lives rather than find out what about our lives matters to us ... Carlisle writes her biography partly in the present tense, as though Kierkegaard’s life is unfolding as it happens, which gives us an uncanny sense of the spectacular complexity of a life that Kierkegaard was at such pains to reveal ... Carlisle writes with verve and sympathy ... Kierkegaard’s life is exemplary, as Carlisle shows with such plain and accessible eloquence, because it was organised around the fear of being ridiculed. He reveals to us what we might do, what might be made, out of our fear of humiliation. As she suggests, after Kierkegaard, our most urgent question may not be why do we suffer?, but how should we suffer? ... Kierkegaard’s life and writing are a testament to the cruelty, the generosity and the inventiveness of those who believe in the Real Thing, the prophets of authenticity. Carlisle’s timely book gives us a good way of thinking about all this and of thinking about Kierkegaard again.
RaveThe London Review of BooksLike all the best autobiographies My Lives is about something and not about someone. White’s preoccupation here, as in much of his fiction, is with betrayal: whether it is possible to betray oneself, and whether it is possible not to betray other people; and how, if at all, these things are connected ... What is remarkable about My Lives is not that it is Genet-lite, but that it engages with some of the most recalcitrant issues in so-called relationships without resort to fake candour or fake seriousness ... The best chapters in the book are ‘My Hustlers’ – ‘the excitement of ordering up an unknown guy on the phone’ – and ‘My Master’, which is about White’s thrilling sado-masochistic relationship with a young actor. He writes both poignantly and excitingly about sexual encounters, and these chapters are at once gripping and complicated in their emotional nuances.