An unsparing, ultimately uplifting account of turning a crisis into a new view of life.

BUTTER SIDE UP

HOW I SURVIVED MY MOST TERRIBLE YEAR & CREATED MY SUPER-AWESOME LIFE

A memoir recounts the struggles of a woman having nowhere to go but up.

The organizing thread of Enright’s book is an age-old phenomenon: The buttered side of a piece of toast often seems to be the part that hits the floor when the bread slips from the hand (this is probably not much of a mystery since the buttered side is a bit heavier). In these pages, this event becomes a rolling metaphor for Murphy’s law, which is itself a metaphor for the rough buffeting life can sometimes seem to be handing out. The memoir’s central concern is “how do we successfully navigate change so we can move forward, not backward; make our ideas happen; and land butter-side up in the game of life?” In the opening section, the author recalls an intensive care unit where she was comforting a man named Clayton who had recently suffered a serious head trauma and was having trouble remembering the fact that they had built a life together. This was not Enright’s first encounter with head trauma. In 2017, she suffered a “life-altering concussion” when she was hit in the head by a volleyball at her son’s tournament. As the frank chronicle unfolds, the author, who describes herself as an “ordinary person,” must deal with helping Clayton adapt to having an acquired brain injury. In this inspiring and upbeat book, Enright is a wonderfully clear-minded narrator of her own experiences, taking readers right inside a personal trauma that many people would have found utterly defeating. Moving through her vivid account with a smooth professionalism, the author convincingly transforms her own story into a broader series of encouragements for her readers. “I believe you are what you believe,” she writes, “and that the majority of us have the ability to create a new reality for ourselves.” The result is a stirringly believable tale of personal reinvention.

An unsparing, ultimately uplifting account of turning a crisis into a new view of life.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5255-8022-2

Page Count: 221

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 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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