An enlightening project that exposes how alike we are in our differences.

THE POETRY OF STRANGERS

WHAT I LEARNED TRAVELING AMERICA WITH A TYPEWRITER

A writer travels the U.S. with his typewriter, crafting custom poems for those he meets along the way.

It began as a one-month performance art experiment. Sonia-Wallace had graduated from college, been laid off from his job, and recently suffered a breakup with his first long-term boyfriend, “the one I was with when I came out as gay to my parents.” After hearing a story on the radio about someone who sold poems in the park, he decided to try and earn his rent by busking verse for strangers. He went from setting up his typewriter at sidewalks and swap meets to becoming a writer-in-residence for Amtrak and the Mall of America. What began as something “between an avant-garde solo show and a practical joke” became a surprising passport to the inner sanctum of peoples’ hearts and minds. This heartwarming essay collection chronicles many of the author’s travels, the people he met, and a few of the things he learned in the process. Much like his geographical journeys, Sonia-Wallace’s writing meanders through his own past, across history, and touches on some wildly disparate topics, including politics, evangelicalism, music festivals, and California wildfires, to name a few. While poetic verse is the common denominator of each essay, the theme that ties it all together is how similar we all are at the core. From the 95-year-old widower who became the author’s steady companion on the train to the nonbinary witchcraft collective he visited in Massachusetts, Sonia-Wallace recognized the same thing in just about everyone he met: the longing to be seen and heard. “Most people just need their stories to be heard,” he writes. “And that need in the right word. That we lose something when our stories are not heard. That something not only in us, but in the world, dies.”

An enlightening project that exposes how alike we are in our differences. (first printing of 25,000)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287022-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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 virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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