A tender if timid account of the sadness of old age.

I'LL BE SEEING YOU

A MEMOIR

Novelist Berg documents a year in the life of her aging parents.

“Whatever your age, you are picnicking with your back to a forest full of bears,” writes the author. At 70, she still feels youthful, “someone with grass stains on her knees and a roller-skate key around her neck,” but she knows she will soon experience the physical diminishment her parents endured a decade earlier. This memoir charts a year in her parents’ lives, from October 2010 to July 2011, when they were forced to leave their beloved Minnesota home and move into an assisted living facility due to her father’s Alzheimer’s. It was a dramatic decline for a man who was “a lifer in the U.S. Army whose way of awakening me in the morning when I was in high school was to stand at the threshold of my bedroom and say, ‘Move out.’ ” Berg recounts her trips to Minnesota to help her parents adjust, her dealings with realtors and auctioneers unsympathetic to the family’s tragedy, and conversations with her resentful mother, whose anger at her husband’s rapidly slipping away led her to wish he would go to sleep one night and not wake up. “The failing of an aging parent is one of those old stories that feels abrasively new to the person experiencing it,” she writes. The narrative is repetitive, with constant references to food and snippets of trivial conversations with acquaintances readers meet only once. This sketchiness and repetition suggest that Berg may have had mixed feelings about sharing this intimate portrait, and the memoir suffers as a result. Moving moments peek through, however, such as the author’s portrayal of her parents’ decadeslong practice of kissing first thing in the morning and last thing at night; when her father couldn’t remember one day if he had kissed his wife good morning, he kissed her again to make sure.

A tender if timid account of the sadness of old age.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13467-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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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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