A beautiful ode to determination and daring and an intimate look at one of our finest writers.

MANIFESTO

ON NEVER GIVING UP

The award-winning author of Girl, Woman, Othergenerously shares her pathway to success in this nonfiction debut.

“You need the early knock-backs to develop the resilience that will make you unstoppable,” writes Evaristo, who was raised in a working-class family in South London, one of eight children born to a Nigerian father and a White Catholic mother. Some of her early knock-backs involved attacks on her family home by neighborhood racists. These attacks and other injustices cemented young Evaristo’s outsider status, which in turn fueled her relentless creative spirit. At age 60, she won the Booker Prize for her novel Girl, Woman, Other, the first Black woman and first Black British person to win the coveted award in its 50-year history, and the book was hailed as a favorite by Barack Obama and Roxane Gay. Here, Evaristo details the journey between her fraught beginnings and her career triumphs, and the result is part memoir and part meditation on determination, creativity, and activism. She writes with welcome candor and clarity about her biracial heritage, her fledgling early career in theater, and her rocky romantic relationships with both men and women. The author’s passion and commitment to community especially shine through in her guidance to writers at all levels about the importance of envisioning the best outcomes for themselves and for their work—and protecting themselves from naysayers. “Creativity circulates freely in our imaginations, waiting for us to tap into it. It must not be bound by rules or censorship, yet we should not ignore its socio-political contexts.” Evaristo inspires while keeping it real, deftly avoiding the sentimentality and vagueness that too often plague advice books. She lays bare the nuts and bolts of her writing process; pushes back against sexism, racism, and ageism; and imparts her hard-won wisdom unapologetically and with refreshing nuance.

A beautiful ode to determination and daring and an intimate look at one of our finest writers.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8021-5890-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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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