Unstrap your backpack of guilt and sit down for a laugh.

TO HELL WITH IT

OF SIN AND SEX, CHICKEN WINGS, AND DANTE’S ENTIRELY RIDICULOUS, NEEDLESSLY GUILT-INDUCING INFERNO

The nonbeliever's guide to eternal torment.

Fans of the formally innovative comic essayist Moore learned of his falling-out with the faith of his childhood via his 1997 spiritual memoir The Accidental Buddhist. Now, however, it turns out he's still working on freeing himself from the far-reaching aftereffects of Catholic school, inviting readers to join him in sloughing off the "massive emotional backpacks of needless guilt that have been strapped onto our tender psyches by organized religion and the pretzel-logic of medieval theology." In chapters linked to the cantos of Dante’s Inferno, the author debunks the poem's "pulsing, perilous mixtape of Greek, Roman, and Christian myths and images.” He also attacks the misinformation distributed by his first religion teacher, Sister Mary Mark (he's still unclear on how his donated milk money saved pagan babies); the writings of St. Augustine, “a great and devout man, a spiritual genius, and honestly, a bit of a wackadoodle”; The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, “a pint-sized paperback offering a significant dumbing down of key biblical teachings, written expressly for impressionable young ears”; and an even more bizarre book titled The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven (2010), which was “pulled from the shelves in 2015” due to a lawsuit questioning its veracity. To research Inferno-stoking vices such as gluttony, hoarding, and squandering, Moore competed in a chicken-wing eating contest in Kentucky and attended the annual “World's Longest Yard Sale,” which stretches nearly 700 miles from southern Michigan to Alabama. The author also offers unexpectedly moving passages on the sad family history that inspired his mother to frequently state, "My hell is right here on Earth." Luckily, Moore found his own saving grace early on. "Each time that ugly snake of despair circled around and tried to take another bite out of me,” he writes, “I was kept alive by humor and by incredulity."

Unstrap your backpack of guilt and sit down for a laugh.

Pub Date: March 1, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

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?

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

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?

more