A vibrant and wistful report on a bygone era in gay culture.

GAY BAR

WHY WE WENT OUT

A writer’s intimate trans-Atlantic history of gay bars.

In his first book, Lin examines queer history through the lens of what he sees as a vanishing institution: the gay bar, which, in recent years, has been “under threat not so much by police, but a juncture of economic factors like unchecked prop­erty speculation and an upsurge in stay-at-home gays.” With raw, voyeuristically explicit detail, the author escorts readers through the crowded, smoky gay bars of London before turning to erotic adventures in California, where he came of age in the early 1990s. Lin chronicles his experiences with his husband, “Famous,” and their barhopping days cruising together for sex, but there’s a lot more here than just sex in dark corners. Lin vividly describes the evolution of gay hot spots in London, including details on a two-mile viaduct channeling through the city, which has housed “raunchy clubs” and even “a small theater [that put] on gay plays.” He also looks at the ever evolving nature of queer life in San Francisco and vividly recalls his memorable early experiences there. “The streets,” he writes, “were like advent calendars: I wanted to open each door and reveal a bisexual hippie, leather daddy, elegant transvestite, friendly bull dyke wielding tat­too gun, sleazy yogi, stoned poet, skateboarder too lazy to resist my advances. I wanted to eat it all up.” Lin grounds his randy travels with sobering ruminations on the deleterious effects of lingering prejudice, gentrification, cultural assimilation, and homonormativity. Though the narrative occasionally darts around too frenetically—it would have benefitted from a tighter organizational structure—the author remains locked in on his subject, creating a consistently engrossing story. As last call descends on many iconic gay bars, Lin’s unfettered reminiscence and sharp wit will resonate especially with older readers, who will enjoy the sweet nostalgia embedded in this entertaining history. “Gay bars are not about arriving,” he writes. “The best ones were always a departure.”

A vibrant and wistful report on a bygone era in gay culture.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-45873-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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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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