A distinctly original perspective on an iconic writer.

BURNING MAN

THE TRIALS OF D.H. LAWRENCE

A fresh study of D.H. Lawrence’s enigmatic life and writing.

In her latest, noted literary critic and biographer Wilson delivers an absorbing, eccentric work of imaginative biography, a text that is by turns deeply revelatory, opinionated, and occasionally rambling. The author focuses on the middle years of Lawrence’s writing career, from 1915 to 1925, and she allegorically frames the three sections of his journey around Dante’s Divine Comedy. “Inferno” covers Lawrence’s years in England while writing The Rainbow and Women in Love and his early years of marriage to Frieda. In “Purgatory,” Wilson chronicles his years in Italy, which featured a murky series of financial and possibly intimate intrigues with American traveler and writer Maurice Magnus. “Paradise” takes us to Australia, which inspired his novel Kangaroo, onward to the American Southwest and Mexico, and up to his tuberculosis diagnosis. Interweaving entertaining accounts of his travels and his relationships along the way with examples of his writing, Wilson skillfully evokes Lawrence’s restless spirit while partially penetrating his contradictory manners and impulses. “His fidelity as a writer was not to the truth but to his own contradictions,” she writes, “and reading him today is like tuning into a radio station whose frequency keeps changing….Of all the Lawrentian paradoxes, however, the most arresting is that he was an intellectual who devalued the intellect, placing his faith in the wisdom of the very body that throughout his life was failing him.” Wilson casts a vivid light on his many notable associations—among them, Katherine Mansfield, Norman Douglas, Mabel Dodge Luhan, and Ottoline Morrell—many of whom published books on their experiences with Lawrence. With more than a hint of misogyny found in some of his fiction, Lawrence is not a particularly relevant author for our times, and Wilson’s effort may not elicit renewed interest despite the author’s colorful depictions of his travels and provocative analysis of his work and personal shortcomings.

A distinctly original perspective on an iconic writer.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-28225-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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