An intimate, life-affirming look at a musician whose artistic journey is far from over.



The multiple Grammy Award–winning troubadour chronicles her life and career so far.

Carlile has quite a story to tell, and she digs deep into her memories of her formative years in the Pacific Northwest: poverty, evictions, transience, familial struggles with alcoholism and depression, and the meningitis that put her into a coma and accelerated her exit from childhood. Early in her adolescence, she knew she was gay, which brought a host of other challenges, not least because “I was told for most of my childhood by multiple sources that to be gay was a one-way ticket to hell.” Throughout the narrative, Carlile shows acute grace and clarity as she follows her navigation of certain rites of passage. Participating in her family’s band, she was a precocious child who loved the spotlight. After dropping out of high school, she continued her musical development with her own band and subsequent solo career. A turning point arrived with her collaboration with twin brothers Tim and Phil Hanseroth, established fixtures on the Seattle scene who added vocal and instrumental richness and increased her credibility with her expanding audience. Like many musicians, Carlile had run-ins with labels and producers and experienced the physical and mental suffering that a balance of recording and touring can inflict. Then there’s the personal side: falling in love and fighting for the right to get married as a gay woman, have children, and take her children on tour. Along with lyrics and snapshots that suggest a scrapbook, the author provides crucial behind-the-scenes insight into her rise to stardom. Especially illuminating are her descriptions of the process of creating such songs as “The Story” and “The Joke,” showing how her personal struggles strengthened her art. The story builds to her Grammy triumphs, her role in the Highwomen supergroup, her co-production of childhood hero Tanya Tucker, and her friendships with Joni Mitchell, Elton John, and the Obamas. With plenty more likely to come, the memoir ends on a high note.

An intimate, life-affirming look at a musician whose artistic journey is far from over.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-23724-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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