A passionate homage to forgotten writers who speak to our own times.

THE DEEP END

THE LITERARY SCENE IN THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND TODAY

For writers of the 1930s, economic hardship was central to their work.

Journalist Boog, West Coast correspondent for Publishers Weekly, combines personal reflections about the challenges writers face today with a well-researched, sometimes digressive look back at writers of the “Crisis Generation,” who struggled during the Great Depression. “My book is dedicated to the stories of poets, novelists, and journalists who never made it” but whose dedication to telling stories of the downtrodden makes them worth remembering. They include poets Maxwell Bodenheim, Kenneth Fearing, and Muriel Rukeyser (“systematically excluded” from the poetry academy, according to Adrienne Rich); Cornell Woolrich, “grandfather of the hardboiled noir”; and Nathanael West, whose Miss Lonelyhearts had paltry sales when it was first published only to be acclaimed 50 years later, long after West died. The writers of the Crisis Generation identified with “workers of all kinds,” marching with them for jobs and fair pay. Unlike writers today, who Boog claims are “unorganized, broke, and easily manipulated,” those of the Crisis Generation saw themselves as activists, responding to and bearing witness to life in the 1930s. Many were given jobs through the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration; others supported one another through organizations such as the Raven Poetry Circle, which became a “home for struggling readers and writers,” and the American Writers Union, which lobbied for writers’ rights. “The writers in the 1930s,” notes Boog, “forced newspapers to pay a living wage, pushed publishers to establish more humane working conditions, rewrote the way books were sold in department stores, and convinced the government to create a federal bailout that put thousands of writers around the country back to work.” The author sees the Sunrise Movement, supporter of the Green New Deal, as a model for activism in “a world of inequality and catastrophe;” and he urges writers—and readers—to “rekindle the radical ideas” that distinguished the Crisis Generation.

A passionate homage to forgotten writers who speak to our own times.

Pub Date: July 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-935928-91-1

Page Count: 232

Publisher: OR Books

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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