A charming stroll down Memory Lane and a tribute to a vanishing culture.



A native Greenwich Villager shares her intimate memories of Manhattan’s bohemian paradise.

Florio, a former TV producer, Wall Street executive, and opera singer, has spent the majority of her life as a resident of one of the nation’s most eccentric and colorful communities. “My childhood neighbors,” she writes, “were painters, social activists, writers, longshoremen, actors, postmen, musicians, trust-fund bohemians, and office workers. Some were born here; others came because our street let them live and think as they liked. I listened to debates on socialism, reincarnation, vegetarianism, and politics on stoops and in grocery stores.” As “the offspring of free-spirited artists,” the author has always been in tune with the vibrancy of her neighborhood. With rich detail and compassion, Florio takes us into her world, sharing many of the poignant memories of her life among “the neighbors who became my allies and surrogate family.” Some of the more memorable anecdotes include the author’s early visit to the Amato Opera on Bleeker Street, where she “toddled around a warm backstage world of Egyptian slaves, French courtesans, and Spanish gypsies”; and reminiscences of an eccentric babysitter, the “real-life aunt of the author Patrick Dennis, who wrote the best-selling novel Auntie Mame, which would spawn a Broadway play, a Hollywood movie, and a Broadway musical.” Florio also shares stories of resident spies and “high-ranking Communists,” the disco era, the frenzied media response to the death of Sid Vicious in 1979, and the humiliating moment when, watering her plants, she accidentally poured water on a passing couple, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Most touching of all are the many warm (and sometimes heartbreaking) memories of her neighbors opening their homes and hearts to each other. Thanks to Florio, as the Village continues to face gentrification, like many neighborhoods across America, we will never forget Bank Street.

A charming stroll down Memory Lane and a tribute to a vanishing culture.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021


Page Count: 240

Publisher: Washington Mews/New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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


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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