A captivating tour of a lawyer’s encounters with creative genius.

A MIND OF THEIR OWN

An attorney reflects on a life working with immensely talented clients, the result of his magnetic attraction to inventive artists, in this memoir.

Curto was “born into the Golden Age of lawyerdom”—New York City in 1936—and enjoyed a career at least sparked by a measure of luck. While attending the New York Law School, the dean, Daniel Gutman, asked the author if he was related to a friend with the same name. Curto was not, but as a consequence of that brief exchange, he was then known to the dean, a relationship that ultimately led to his first legal position at Buhler, King & Buhler. The firm represented a “roster of star clients,” among them Jane Pauley and Garry Trudeau. That early professional experience turned out to be decisively influential, and his career became driven by a profound attraction to creatively fertile types. That allurement is the thematic spine of this memoir: “All these stories have a common thread, which was unseen to me as I was living through them. The thread is the unique individual whose goals captured my imagination and compelled me to support them. It was these people who have defined my legal life.” The author’s remembrance is structured around these wide-ranging encounters and features anecdotes about an eclectic group, including author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, film star Linda Lovelace, football player Freeman McNeil, and journalist Harrison Salisbury.

Curto writes with admirable lucidity—even potentially forbidding questions about legal technicalities are rendered fully accessible to the layperson. While the author’s vivid stories focus on celebrities, it is not their fame per se that sets them apart for Curto—this remembrance is not the expression of infatuation with stardom. In fact, the author poignantly limns an homage to creativity in all its forms: “Simply stated, I was attracted to these special people whom I saw as ‘creators,’ fashioning their own worlds. I have always thought that artists and entrepreneurs, like God, create, while explorers and scientists discover. The difference to me is profound.” Furthermore, some of the tales the author relates intersect with grand world history. In one of the most memorable of his anecdotes, Curto “played a pivotal role in a high-risk, international scheme that secretly conveyed the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to the West,” specifically two literary classics, The First Circle and The Gulag Archipelago. Despite Curto’s obvious success and talent, this is an astonishingly unpretentious work, free of any self-congratulation. The author’s abiding aim is to highlight the virtues and accomplishments of others—his principal role is as a kind of witness to greatness. This is a very brief memoir—it barely reaches 130 pages—and doesn’t challenge readers deeply. In other words, this is a breezy read that delivers more entertainment than edification. In addition, many of the luminaries discussed in the book will be obscure to a younger readership. Almost no one born after, say, 1980, will be familiar with singer/songwriter Harry Chapin. But since the memoir is about the author’s serendipitous encounters with innovative genius, that familiarity hardly matters; the point isn’t to gawk at the glitterati, but rather to appreciate the nebulous wellsprings of creative fecundity. Curto’s reminiscence is a delightful experience, easy though intriguing, a rare literary combination.

A captivating tour of a lawyer’s encounters with creative genius.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

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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 lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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