A fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of publishing.

WHO WE'RE READING WHEN WE'RE READING MURAKAMI

A lively account of the many people involved in bringing Haruki Murakami’s writings to English-speaking readers.

Literature originates with an author’s imagination, but the final product is the work of a team of professionals, from agents and editors to marketing staff and cover designers. The task of bringing the work of an author who writes in another language to English-speaking audiences is even more complex. In this admiring work, first printed in Japanese in 2018, Karashima travels “back in time to tell the stories of the colorful cast of characters who first contributed to publishing Murakami’s work in English.” The vibrancy of those colors varies from person to person. Among the subjects are Murakami’s first translator, Alfred Birnbaum, an American who came to Japan with his family at age 5, got a job translating for Kodansha International, “one of the leading publishers of Japanese literature in English translation,” and translated A Wild Sheep Chase in 1987, when Murakami was unknown outside Japan; Elmer Luke, a Chinese American editor who, in Murakami’s words, “started the engine” when he sold his work to the American market; editors at the New Yorker, including former editor-in-chief Robert Gottlieb, who, Karashima argues, “may have been pivotal to Murakami’s career” by publishing his early stories; and later translators such as Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel. Parts of the book are extraneous; there’s little point in quoting someone whose response to a question about the U.S. publication of A Wild Sheep Chase is to say he doesn’t recall any details. But readers interested in Murakami will enjoy learning about the challenges and trade-offs involved in translation, from the different styles of his translators to his philosophical acceptance of the changes the New Yorker made to his work because that publication “has a large number of readers and they also pay really well.”

A fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of publishing.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59376-589-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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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

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