A sweet remembrance sure to please the author’s loved ones and friends.

I LEFT MY HEART IN MALAYA

In this memoir, a physician recollects the years he spent as a youngster in Malaya—now Malaysia—and the ways in which that experience shaped the rest of his life.

Hung was born in Hong Kong, but both of his parents landed jobs teaching in Muar, Malaya, in 1957 and remained there until 1961. The author was 10 years old when he first arrived—he was “unruly” and “conceited,” spoke little English, and was a shiftless troublemaker. But by the time he left, at 15, he was more mature and more confident, spoke “decent” English, and had developed a deep religious faith. He credits much of his transformation to Brother Robert, a teacher he once “feared and hated,” an austere disciplinarian who set Hung on a straight and narrow path. When the author’s parents finally lost their jobs and were forced to return to Hong Kong—a prospect that deeply distressed him—Brother Robert used his connections to help Hung find a new school. The author would eventually fulfill his dream to go to medical school, become a doctor, and move to the United States, a set of aspirations he long harbored and the consummation of which he gratefully credits to his experience in Malaya. Hung lucidly conveys an endearing tale of the years he still considers the happiest in his life. With great tenderness, he recounts the beautiful simplicity of that stretch of his youth: “It was an age of innocence for us. Our lives were simple and our pleasures were simple.” But his remembrance is an idiosyncratically personal one—he furnishes the historical backgrounds of multiple families with which he had close relations, information that won’t sustain the attention of readers unacquainted with them. Hung’s devotion to those he met in Malaya—he all but adopted one troubled family as his own—is infinitely noble but not always gripping.

A sweet remembrance sure to please the author’s loved ones and friends.

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73535-520-7

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 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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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: May 15, 2021

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