A laugh-out-loud funny, informative, and tender read for animal lovers; Cosmo is unforgettable.


Based on two years of columns written for the Athens Banner-Herald, this collection of essays stars Cosmo, a delightfully loquacious African grey parrot with a sense of humor.

Craige, the author of a memoir titled Conversations With Cosmo (2010), purchased the 6-month-old parrot in May 2002 from a pet shop. Bred in captivity, Cosmo had been removed from her parents to acclimate her to life with humans. In December of that year, Cosmo spoke her first word: bird. After a few minutes, she added: “Cosmo is a bird.” A retired professor of comparative literature at the University of Georgia, Craige had long been interested in “how…other species saw the world.” Perhaps an English-speaking parrot could tell her. Make no mistake: Cosmo may have learned to speak by imitating the author’s words, but she quickly began putting that vocabulary to use, forming her own sentences. She enthusiastically echoed all she saw and heard around her. When Cosmo mimicked a siren, Craige realized an emergency vehicle had passed her house. The parrot teased the author by imitating a telephone ring, successfully bringing Craige into her room. Although Cosmo knew the house rules, she sometimes appeared to declare her independence to the author: “Now she is climbing down from the cage and heading toward my bedroom. I beg her, ‘Cosmo, please be a good bird!’ Cosmo answers, ‘Noooo! Cosmo don’t wanna be a good bird. Hehehehe!’ ” Certainly, the most entertaining sections of the essays are the amusing Cosmo anecdotes. But these are also the jumping-off points for intriguing discussions about the behavior of animals and the ways in which many of them—birds, gorillas, chimps, dolphins, whales, and octopuses—communicate with one another. Referencing Cornell University researcher Karl Berg, “who studied green-rumped parrots in Venezuela,” Craige explains that “parrot parents give each” of their chicks an individual “signature call,” or a name. The chicks will then identify themselves by using those calls, not unlike the author’s beloved parrot’s starting most of her sentences with Cosmo. Other chapters in this charming, thought-provoking collection are loaded with factoids and ponder the complex mental lives of Earth’s creatures large and small. They are likely to leave readers questioning many of their preconceptions.

A laugh-out-loud funny, informative, and tender read for animal lovers; Cosmo is unforgettable.

Pub Date: April 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-890932-51-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sherman Asher Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 26, 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 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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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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