Stirring reflections to illuminate dark times.

AND WE CAME OUTSIDE AND SAW THE STARS AGAIN

WRITERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD ON THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Passionate voices ring out from lockdowns around the world.

Mexican American writer and educator Stavans has gleaned powerful responses to the pandemic from 52 contributors who share their experiences in deftly crafted essays, poems, photographs, and artwork. Lines from Dante’s Divine Comedy provide the title for the book and its five sections: “A Mighty Flame Follows a Tiny Spark” focuses on the eruption of the plague; “The Path to Paradise Begins in Hell,” on the need for a road map; “I’m Not Alone in Misery,” on empathy; “Faith Is the Substance of Things Hoped for,” on hope; and “ ‘Love Insists the Loved Loves Back’ is the door through which we might come outside again and see the stars.” The impressive cast of contributors—Jhumpa Lahiri, Mario Vargas Llosa, Claire Messud, Ariel Dorfman, Rivka Galchen, Daniel Alarcón, and others—reveal feelings of fear, loneliness, and, for some, a surprising sense of connection. As Argentinian journalist Javier Sinay writes, “even though a coronavirus particle is seventeen million times smaller than a human being, in the war of the species, for a moment already too prolonged, it has been able to corral all of humanity with its spikes.” An overwhelming sense of dread is not new to several writers. Quarantined in Copenhagen, political cartoonist Khalid Albaih writes, “I am sorry to break it to you, but your ‘new normal’ has been the ‘old normal’ for billions of Brown and Black people around the world. For many of us, restrictions, repression, and deprivation have been a constant feature of our whole lives.” For Majed Abusalama, who was raised in a refugee camp in Gaza, being locked down in Berlin, where he lives now, “brought back memories from the first Intifada.” Although many look optimistically to the future, for others, the pandemic has laid bare a long plague of inequality and hatreds.

Stirring reflections to illuminate dark times.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63206-302-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Restless Books

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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