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FALLING UPWARDS

LIVING THE DREAM, ONE PANIC ATTACK AT A TIME

A quirky and inspiring story.

A successful California restaurateur dishes on his “fall” into success.

In 2014, then-23-year-old Fall took a chance and opened his first bar. His idea was simple: to reinvigorate a staid Los Angeles nightclub scene and transform it into an experience that intermingled “ideas and friendships and art.” The popularity of this bar and others quickly transformed Fall into a “thing,” but he soon realized that his real interest was food and creating unique dining experiences. His limited knowledge of the restaurant world had come through a mother who had managed a Skid Row cafe. Despite countless challenges, the author dove into his work with Nighthawk, a diner named after the 1942 Edward Hopper painting. Nighthawk featured a “live DJ ‘jukebox’ ” and served breakfast and breakfast-themed cocktails like his famous “spiked cereal milk.” Other mixed media–style restaurants followed, and Fall eventually landed in Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30.” Meanwhile, he found himself reckoning with an extreme anxiety that threatened to shut down his creative output. Pulling no punches, the author discusses how therapy and medication helped him navigate his mental health issues and allowed him to embrace neurodivergence as the source for the “loose balloon” ideas he credits for his successes. Remaining authentic and vulnerable in spaces overrun by toxic masculinity also became part of his regimen to remain healthy. “I’d always grown up with the cliché that men hate to talk, but it’s just not true,” he writes. “All you need is a few positive experiences to realize that wow—talking about our feelings actually makes things better.” In that spirit, Fall discusses Alan, his anxiety, and Bob, his inner critic, with refreshing openness and humor. At a time when the highly flawed alpha male credo of “stronger, harder, better” still dominates ideas about success, Fall’s book offers a welcome take on both masculinity and the nature of creativity.

A quirky and inspiring story.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780306830952

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Hachette Go

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023

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GREENLIGHTS

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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CALL ME ANNE

A sweet final word from an actor who leaves a legacy of compassion and kindness.

The late actor offers a gentle guide for living with more purpose, love, and joy.

Mixing poetry, prescriptive challenges, and elements of memoir, Heche (1969-2022) delivers a narrative that is more encouraging workbook than life story. The author wants to share what she has discovered over the course of a life filled with abuse, advocacy, and uncanny turning points. Her greatest discovery? Love. “Open yourself up to love and transform kindness from a feeling you extend to those around you to actions that you perform for them,” she writes. “Only by caring can we open ourselves up to the universe, and only by opening up to the universe can we fully experience all the wonders that it holds, the greatest of which is love.” Throughout the occasionally overwrought text, Heche is heavy on the concept of care. She wants us to experience joy as she does, and she provides a road map for how to get there. Instead of slinking away from Hollywood and the ridicule that she endured there, Heche found the good and hung on, with Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford starring as particularly shining knights in her story. Some readers may dismiss this material as vapid Hollywood stuff, but Heche’s perspective is an empathetic blend of Buddhism (minimize suffering), dialectical behavioral therapy (tolerating distress), Christianity (do unto others), and pre-Socratic philosophy (sufficient reason). “You’re not out to change the whole world, but to increase the levels of love and kindness in the world, drop by drop,” she writes. “Over time, these actions wear away the coldness, hate, and indifference around us as surely as water slowly wearing away stone.” Readers grieving her loss will take solace knowing that she lived her love-filled life on her own terms. Heche’s business and podcast partner, Heather Duffy, writes the epilogue, closing the book on a life well lived.

A sweet final word from an actor who leaves a legacy of compassion and kindness.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781627783316

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Viva Editions

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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