A splashy, entertaining guide to the lyrics of one of the most popular musicians of our time.

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DOLLY PARTON, SONGTELLER

MY LIFE IN LYRICS

A hefty retrospective on the six-decade career of a country music superstar who tells stories in song.

Parton has been mining her East Tennessee roots for crowd-pleasing songs ever since she wrote her first tune, about a corncob doll, at around the age of 6. With Nashville-based music journalist Oermann, she serves up her highest-grade ore in a handsomely produced collection of the lyrics to more than 175 of her songs, some in print for the first time. All songs have brief introductions on topics such as when and how Parton wrote them, and longer pieces show her evolution from “a hard-core country artist” with a “girlish soprano tremolo” to a multifaceted star also at ease with pop, gospel, and bluegrass. Moving chronologically through the artist’s life, the book reveals her abiding passions with thematic juxtapositions of songs, which range from “9 to 5” to the elegiac ballads “Jolene” (her song “most performed by others”) and “I Will Always Love You” (“For what she did with that, I will always love you, Whitney Houston”). Hundreds of color and black-and-white photos of Parton and others display her over-the-top tastes in fashion and wigs faithful to her motto: “Leave no rhinestone unturned.” Parton conceals more than she reveals about her 50-plus-year marriage to the reclusive Carl Dean and whether she’s had affairs (“Well, I don’t admit or deny anything”). She is frank, however, about professional setbacks. For example, when she was starting out in the industry, every major record company on Nashville’s Music Row turned her down as a vocalist. In the final pages, Parton sounds a poignant note in the lyrics to a song written with Kent Wells and released during the pandemic. The song, “When Life Is Good Again,” is the hymnlike lament of a repentant sinner who vows to change “when life is good again." One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

A splashy, entertaining guide to the lyrics of one of the most popular musicians of our time.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7972-0509-0

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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