A warm, homey collection of recipes from the lighter side of Italian cuisine, clear enough for kitchen newcomers.



Mazzarella's debut provides a blend of family lore and recipes in this cookbook and loving tribute to his mother.

Benigna Preziosi Mazzarella lived to be nearly 108 years old. Her son thinks he knows why: good genes, hard work and her own home cooking, which, like the long life she lived, was unsentimental and unpretentious. She made her own pasta by hand—served in tiny, primi-appropriate portions—but when she wanted a fat-free, sugar-free treat, she turned to modern convenience foods like pudding and Jell-O mixes. The recipes—about 50 in all, from the basic pasta and lentils to “Mama’s Elusive Vinegar Chicken”—reflect this mix of New and Old World sensibilities. Beyond portion size, Mazzarella says his mama stayed slim her whole life by heaping on the vegetables and eschewing nearly all fat. Mama also worked as a seamstress until she was 80 and put dinner on the table for her family every night. That means readers won’t find too many labor-intensive or long-simmering dishes in this collection. Nor are there many hard-to-find ingredients (Mama Mazzarella never drove and walked a mile each way to the grocery store, which would quell anyone’s appetite for expensive oils), with one exception: pullia, or pennyroyal in English. Mazzarella devotes an entire chapter to the lengths his family would go in search of this beloved plant, and he shares a pasta recipe featuring the herb. Although Mama never wrote down her recipes, Mazzarella has taken pains to record them professionally, thoroughly and clearly; his prose is straightforward and his tone is light. Immigrating to America as a young adult, Mama raised her family in New Jersey, where she lived a life essentially free from drama. Mazzarella’s account of her life, taking up about a third of the book, is fittingly understated: no scandals, no heartbreak, seemingly no connections at all to the politics and events of the 20th century, even though his mother lived through every year of it. Just good luck, good health and good food.

A warm, homey collection of recipes from the lighter side of Italian cuisine, clear enough for kitchen newcomers.

Pub Date: June 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475913958

Page Count: 194

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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