An amusing, if uneven, account that features lively tales of a quirky Midwest family.


A debut memoir offers the reminiscences of a Hungarian American woman who grew up in the 1950s in an Indiana refinery town and later became a wanderer.

In this book, McCoy tells the story of her oddball family, including her dad, who made her stock the furnace coal bin. He gave her a hideous black rubber mask to wear when feeding the furnace. Dad also made her wait in the car while he stopped by a bar to quaff a beer or three. And he “didn’t like trees. Reliable providers of shade in the heat of the summer, they were not his friend in leaf-raking time.” While life as a teenager was challenging anywhere, “living in a Hungarian-American household had to be some kind of test,” the author asserts. There were “dozens of crocheted doilies lying on top of anything that didn’t move.” And Mom constantly stabbed at wayward rugs with her shoe heels. McCoy dreamed of escaping to college, an ambition Dad scorned. But she attained her dream only to come back from school for Thanksgiving to discover Dad had replaced the coal clunker with a gas-burning furnace. “Now? Unbelievable!” the author writes of Dad’s timing. “I looked at him, mumbled something, and headed back upstairs.” Chronicling her father’s dismissals, McCoy recounts her family’s foibles with wry wit, an eye for detail, and sharp prose that make the first part of this work an entertaining journey to this Midwest lakeshore town where the air stank of industry. But the book, which features black-and-white family photographs, loses some oomph in the second half. That part describes the author and her husband repeatedly crisscrossing the Atlantic because of his job as a journalist. (The memoir’s title, which some readers may find off-putting, comes from a remark made by McCoy’s father.) The incisive character development marking the first half gets a bit lost in the various details and logistics of moving a household.

An amusing, if uneven, account that features lively tales of a quirky Midwest family.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64471-871-1

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Covenant Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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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 virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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