A soul-searching reflection that delivers an emotional journey to amplify the self-help tips.

BIG FRIENDSHIP

HOW WE KEEP EACH OTHER CLOSE

A rich exploration of friendship by the talented women behind the Call Your Girlfriend podcast.

Sow and Friedman have been best friends since 2009, when they instantly clicked at a Gossip Girl viewing party, but it hasn’t always been easy. They both struggled for years to juggle what David Sedaris calls life’s “four burners”—family, friends, health, and work. Here, the authors delve psychologically and emotionally into the nature of the concept of a “Big Friendship,” whether it’s a long-distance relationship like their own or anyone deemed appropriate to include in one’s “chosen family.” Written in an almost novelistic style, this chronicle of their experiences include Friedman’s difficult decision to strike out on her own as a writer as well as Sow’s medical issues. Those who follow the podcast will be familiar with the authors’ philosophy of “Shine Theory,” described by its creators as “an investment, over the long term, in helping a friend be their best—and relying on their help in return...a conscious decision to bring our full selves to our friendships and to not let insecurity or envy ravage them.” In other words, as Sow told Friedman after one particularly satisfying professional triumph, “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” Though both authors have achieved remarkable professional success, that doesn’t mean they gloss over their rough patches, including difficult spells that challenged the bonds of their friendship and a conflict involving a painful sociological phenomenon dubbed the “trapdoor of racism,” which forced both women to reevaluate their bond, ultimately resulting in a trip to couples therapy. Having honed a relationship they compare to the one between Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, the authors are well equipped to deliver honest and helpful advice to anyone struggling to maintain a healthy union over time and distance.

A soul-searching reflection that delivers an emotional journey to amplify the self-help tips.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982111-90-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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