A fun memoir by a man who’s grown old without growing grumpy.

GEEZING ALONG AT 80

LIVING, LOVING AND LAUGHING AFTER 80

An octogenarian takes a lighthearted view of questions he faces in his 80s, such as “How Have I Lived So Long, Yet Learnt So Little?”

Debut memoirist Anastasi has accomplished what only a skilled writer in the genre can do—hook the reader with a purely personal life story that in less capable hands might have interested only family and friends. He’s writing for his cohort and those on the cusp of it as well as for young people who, he notes, consider themselves immortal—so, pretty much everyone. Anastasi tells an amusing tale in a format that fits him to a T: a mixture of memoir and musings that recount some of his exploits in the impish voice of the rascal he clearly was in his school days. A former writer for the Army and sportswriter at the old Washington Daily News, he hasn’t lost his touch for punchy writing. (When someone says at an open-coffin visitation that the decedent “looks so good,” Anastasi muses, “Well, I’ve seen him looking better!”) His sense of humor aside, his book has serious passages about widespread concerns, among them health, personal connections, and insomnia. Anastasi also touches lightly on his work as a public information officer for the federal government, which led to his writing a Mother’s Day speech for President Gerald R. Ford. He takes some contrary stances that are hard to argue with, such as that people his age have earned the right to eat and say anything they want and to skip exercise. Something of an icon among the 80-plus crowd, Anastasi proudly says that his photo was on the cover of GQ—not the tony men’s magazine but Geezer Quarterly. Anecdotes highlight his Italian American perspective, including a wry critique of various styles of pre-funeral viewings of the deceased. Family snapshots bring to life the memories in a book that, with just 73 pages, is a breezy read.

A fun memoir by a man who’s grown old without growing grumpy.

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-916467-92-7

Page Count: 103

Publisher: L.R. Price Publications Ltd

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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