A fitting tribute to a great, memorable pitcher.

TOM SEAVER

A TERRIFIC LIFE

A vivid portrait of one of modern baseball’s legendary players.

Tom Seaver (1944-2020) was small as a boy but made up for it with both athleticism and steely determination, drawing attention early. As veteran sportswriter Madden relates, a great training tool was that Seaver and a boyhood friend were each forbidden to leave their yards, so they had to throw straight to each other lest the game end. As a result, Seaver was already working on strikeouts at the age of 6. Modest and intellectually inclined—he and his teammates played bridge in the locker room to sharpen their minds—Seaver once said, “the thing I most appreciate about the game is that it is one of the few places left where a person like myself can show his individuality.” He certainly did that, and though team managers didn’t always treat him well or use him to best advantage, he raised the average for every one of his teams. Madden’s account centers on Seaver’s chase to accumulate 300 wins, which put him in the highest stratosphere of pitchers. On the infrequent occasions when he had a bad game or, more rarely, a bad season, he was fully willing to shoulder blame. As he said of a performance-related pay cut by his beloved New York Mets in 1974, “they paid me a good amount of money last year, and I didn’t pitch up that amount.” The year may not have been much, but look at 1971 and 1975, Madden suggests, and all can be forgiven. Seaver’s decline to Lyme disease–related dementia resulted in an embarrassing episode or two and, eventually, a tragic inability to recognize his fellow Hall of Famers, but the 12-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner made a brave effort. The author’s cutting conclusion is perfect: Tom Brady tried to patent the phrase but was roundly rejected, for “there was, and always will be, only one Tom Terrific.”

A fitting tribute to a great, memorable pitcher.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982136-18-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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: May 15, 2021

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