An illuminating addition to the genre, best appreciated if read intermittently.

HOPE OF THE CROW

TALES OF OCCUPYING AGING

A comprehensive collection of short essays in which the author, a passionate advocate for people with disabilities, shares the daily experiences that make her life both more frustrating and more rewarding.

Schneider was born prematurely in 1949, blind from birth, and not expected to survive. Seventy years later, she is a retired clinical psychologist navigating aging with the grace, wisdom, and determination that have defined her life. She refers to her current stage as one in which she is “Occupying Aging.” And she has plenty of helpful tips to impart— especially for people with disabilities, their families, their friends, and, not incidentally, seniors who inevitably find themselves less able than they once were: “My hope is that as more people age into the disability club, accessibilities will keep improving for all.” The volume is broadly organized into four sections—"Work,” “Play,” “Love,” and “Pray.” Within each, the essays are presented chronologically. It is a structure that gives readers a comprehensive sense of the trajectory of the successes and failures of such legislation as the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act. The blog posts (http://kathiecomments.wordpress.com) recount personal experiences and range from detailed discussions on federal/local regulations to the simple pleasures and difficulties of taking a walk with her beloved service dog, Luna. She offers good advice for well-intentioned strangers (“Ask me if I need help rather than assume”), urges activism, and provides contact information for government agencies. She says, if your public library does not have the book you are looking for in accessible format or your cable provider does not have “described television programming,” request it! There is also substantial information about the variety of electronic devices and programs that enable accessibility. Although a few of the essays are dry and technical, most are conversational, pleasantly edgy, and often sprinkled with gentle, self-effacing wit: “as I limp along in the slow lane of the information superhighway.” Always, there is an optimistic tone: “I’ve learned to notice the positive and find the humor in some of the tough interactions around my disabilities.” An extensive list of references is provided at the end of the book.

An illuminating addition to the genre, best appreciated if read intermittently. (references)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62787-818-0

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Wheatmark

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 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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