A timely, engaging exploration of family and racial belonging featuring many valuable lessons.

RACELESS

IN SEARCH OF FAMILY, IDENTITY, AND THE TRUTH ABOUT WHERE I BELONG

An intimate story about the meaning of family and the subjectivity of race.

In her debut memoir, Guardian columnist Lawton offers a unique perspective on identity and family in an era of racial awakening. The author guides readers through her childhood as a mixed-race girl raised by two White parents who insisted that her darker skin was the product of a so-called “throwback gene.” After the death of her father, Lawton took a DNA test that forced her to confront why her Blackness was always treated as a burden instead of a self-evident truth. “I was an inquisitive child with an anti-authoritarian streak that would rear its head at inopportune times, but which was probably linked to the fact that my very existence was contradictory and nonsensical,” she writes. “I was looking to find my place in the world around me.” As she tells her personal story, the author weaves in discussions of such relevant concepts as transracial identity, Afro-futurism and the importance of Black hair, without assuming that readers are familiar with any of them. She helpfully situates her epiphanies about identity within the robust canon of contemporary Black thinkers, from bell hooks to Zora Neale Hurston to Solange. But the book isn’t just a passive examination of race. Lawton uprooted her life in search of community, traveling to Cuba, Nicaragua, Morocco, and Vietnam. The book is sure to resonate with those who have had to negotiate their existence in the “in-between” or who possess identities that defy old-fashioned, traditional norms. Lawton gives herself, and others, permission to contain multitudes. “Being yourself,” she writes, “is easier once you free yourself from the baggage of other people’s expectations, when you look in the mirror and accept that the person staring back at you is a culmination of everything you have always wanted to be.”

A timely, engaging exploration of family and racial belonging featuring many valuable lessons.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300948-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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