While there may be no novel ideas here, Sederquist’s good-humor, optimism and varied subjects offer diverting reading.



In his memoir, Sederquist (Hiking Out, 2007) concludes that his life, vicissitudes and all, has been a good one.

The book contains 91 anecdotes, reflections or observations, each usually no more than three or four pages. The longest recounts Sederquist’s recovery from depression and the book he wrote about that episode, Hiking Out. Sederquist, in his eighth decade, used his book as the basis for workshops he conducted at a Connecticut prison to “break the cycle of addiction and recidivism” commonly found among inmates. The author discusses his way of coping with common issues, such as “Fear of Failure” and “Fear of Success.” He recounts dealing with commonplace life events: the dulling of the senses that accompanies getting older, children’s and grandchildren’s antics, the death of a family member, an elusive medical diagnosis. The scope of the writer’s interests and experiences is broad—from the making of a submarine sandwich to the laws of physics as they apply to taking a shower to the now-obsolete slide rule. Many readers may find Sederquist’s travel stories the most entertaining parts of the book. He chronicles trips to Italy, Greece, Peru, New Brunswick, and Central and Eastern Europe. Throughout, the writer maintains his sense of humor in the face of the unexpected; in “Be Prepared,” he describes using his first-aid skills after his wife’s accident in Canada and concludes, “I still carry a supply of butterfly bandages.” The book ends with a nice bit of graceful writing that deems death “a transition from remembering to being remembered.” The writing, in fact, is consistently polished. His voice is that of the subtitle’s “life-long hiker” whose trails have taken him down paths both well-worn and fresh. What’s more, he does this with good cheer and a willingness to learn from everything that he encounters.

While there may be no novel ideas here, Sederquist’s good-humor, optimism and varied subjects offer diverting reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478314806

Page Count: 306

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 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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