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SOMEHOW

THOUGHTS ON LOVE

Lamott newbies will find this a kind view of loving oneself and others despite our collective imperfections.

The bestselling author follows the template of the most recent half-dozen of her loosely connected essay collections, this time focused on love.

“What are we even talking about when we talk about love? What is it?” So asks Lamott on the first page of her latest book, and she goes on to answer the question in a similar manner to her many previous books: Love is Jesus, but also each other, and also, sometimes, chocolate. In these varying anecdotes, the author plumbs familiar ground, including family and her church community, the adorable malaprop-prone kids in her Sunday school class, and her unhoused neighbors near her Bay Area home. Newer topics include her still-recent marriage (her first, in her mid-60s) to the “lovely, steady” Neal and the upheaval caused by her son Sam’s drug addiction and her grandson’s arrival. With age, Lamott’s essays have become less acerbic and more attuned to the natural world; the scent of eucalyptus comes up often, as do the flowers and foliage, the fog and the forests of Northern California. In this book, she focuses less on vengeful thinking for comic effect and more on the joys of smelling the roses. In one essay, she recounts how she taught a reluctant young Cuban woman to swim; in another, she describes how she held a sharpened pencil to her son’s neck and told him not to come home until he was clean. (A month later, he did.) As always, a strong vein of spirituality runs throughout, with Lamott’s characteristic descriptions of an all-loving God who is often flummoxed and saddened by humanity, but hopeful anyway. This all comes across as much less twee than it might be, and the stories make up in warmth what they lack in novelty.

Lamott newbies will find this a kind view of loving oneself and others despite our collective imperfections.

Pub Date: April 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780593714416

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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GREENLIGHTS

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

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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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UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

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Two bestselling authors engage in an enlightening back-and-forth about Jewishness and antisemitism.

Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, and Tishby, author of Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, discuss many of the searing issues for Jews today, delving into whether Jewishness is a religion, culture, ethnicity, or community—or all of the above. As Tishby points out, unlike in Christianity, one can be comfortably atheist and still be considered a Jew. She defines Judaism as a “big tent” religion with four main elements: religion, peoplehood, nationhood, and the idea of tikkun olam (“repairing the world through our actions”). She addresses candidly the hurtful stereotypes about Jews (that they are rich and powerful) that Acho grew up with in Dallas and how Jews internalize these antisemitic judgments. Moreover, Tishby notes, “it is literally impossible to be Jewish and not have any connection with Israel, and I’m not talking about borders or a dot on the map. Judaism…is an indigenous religion.” Acho wonders if one can legitimately criticize “Jewish people and their ideologies” without being antisemitic, and Tishby offers ways to check whether one’s criticism of Jews or Zionism is antisemitic or factually straightforward. The authors also touch on the deteriorating relationship between Black and Jewish Americans, despite their historically close alliance during the civil rights era. “As long as Jewish people get to benefit from appearing white while Black people have to suffer for being Black, there will always be resentment,” notes Acho. “Because the same thing that grants you all access—your skin color—is what grants us pain and punishment in perpetuity.” Finally, the authors underscore the importance of being mutual allies, and they conclude with helpful indexes on vernacular terms and customs.

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668057858

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Element

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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