Sharply observant, contemplative writing that captures the buzz of hitchhiking.

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NOBODY HITCHHIKES ANYMORE

A former journalist sets out to reexperience the hitchhiking adventures of his past in this absorbing travel memoir.

In 1978, Griffin-Nolan, accompanied by his childhood friend Joe, hitchhiked from New York to San Francisco and back. Since it was one of the “finest educational and recreational experiences” he’d experienced, he decided, 40 years later, to do it again. Joe, among others, tried to convince him to abandon the idea, arguing that hitchhiking was no longer safe. In 2018, the author set out alone from his home near Syracuse, New York. Progress was uncertain at first; a deputy sheriff stopped him and said that hitchhiking is illegal in New York. But the author soon began to pick his way west, fueled by the benevolence of drivers who responded to his cardboard sign: “#NobodyHitchhikesAnymore.” The trip takes in the thousands of wind turbines of the Midwest, Salt Lake City, and the Rockies before culminating as the author approaches San Francisco. Along the way, Griffin-Nolan ponders the ways the road and those he met on it have changed since the late ’70s. Griffin-Nolan’s writing crackles with an energy for adventure: “The only way to convert today’s uncertainty into tomorrow’s story is to get out there and live it.” His writing style is almost photographic, offering keenly observed snapshots of the lives of others. In a Peoria Greyhound station populated by the city’s addicts, he witnesses a woman trying to calm a “troubled mother-to-be”: “Into an audio landscape layered with rumbling moans of withdrawal and a chain of psychotic call-and-response dialogues, this serene lady whispers enchantments.” The memoir’s tight focus on individuals means that the sweeping vistas of America’s landscapes are sometimes overlooked, but this does not detract from an intelligently written memoir that documents how America is changing: “The disappearance of hitchhiking and the rise of the gated community seem part of the same thing. Fear leads to isolation leads to more fear.” Griffin-Nolan is acutely aware of America’s current troubles, focusing particularly on “evidence of empowered and emboldened racism.” Yet his unswerving faith in the kindness of strangers is uplifting, and his intrepid spirit will encourage others to take to the road.

Sharply observant, contemplative writing that captures the buzz of hitchhiking.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-57869-038-1

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Rootstock Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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

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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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