Enthusiastic and chockablock with varied examples but tightly bound by the ropes of convention.

27 ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLES OF STORY

MASTER THE SECRETS OF GREAT STORYTELLING, FROM SHAKESPEARE TO SOUTH PARK

A self-help book for those who yearn to be story writers.

Rubin has considerable experience in this arena—a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, he is the founder of the writing studio Story 27 and has written for TV and theater—but little is novel here. He writes in conventional self-help format (chapters with identical subheadings, bullet points, continual encouragement) and employs informal diction throughout, including the final sentence: “You got this.” In one of the major sections, “How the Master Did It,” the author summarizes, sometimes quite extensively, a salmagundi of works including computer games, songs, short stories, novels, plays, films, TV scripts, and comic books. Among the many iconic authors Rubin cites are Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, James Baldwin, Arthur Miller, and Toni Morrison as well as more current artists such as Quentin Tarantino and Tina Fey. Rubin’s point, well taken, is that great stories are similar in foundational ways, and he devotes most of the text to showing novices how to become adepts, if not maestros. The 27 chapters, introduced by quotes from the likes of Aristotle, Voltaire, Buddha, and others, are arranged into large themes—plot, character, setting, dialogue, etc.—and each has an urgent and/or encouraging title: “Drop the Hammer,” “Escalate Risk,” “Hunt Big Game,” “Peel the Onion,” “Confront Evil.” The prose is readable yet sprinkled with cliché (“getting into the appropriate mindset”) and platitude (“the more you do something, the better you get at it”). Rubin does display a wide range of reading, but he does not delve into language, mechanics, usage, ways to write a character’s thoughts, and so on. Maybe another volume is on the way? The author remains positive and encouraging throughout, but as most aspiring writers know, success is highly elusive.

Enthusiastic and chockablock with varied examples but tightly bound by the ropes of convention.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0716-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 21

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more