A vibrantly self-aware rock memoir buzzing with music, drugs, sisterhood, and blissful redemption.

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  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020

ALL I EVER WANTED

A ROCK 'N' ROLL MEMOIR

The former bassist for the Go-Go’s chronicles her life before and after stardom.

In this surprisingly revealing memoir, Valentine recalls her childhood in Austin, Texas, raised by a single English expat mother who treated her like one of her druggy pals. She was an early experimenter with drugs and sex, and at age 12, she had to travel to California to have an abortion. A televised 1973 performance by Suzi Quatro inspired Valentine to dream of creating “a kickass band with a gang of like-minded girls and claim the life I wanted for myself.” In 1980, after gigs with several smaller bands and a few years playing guitar, Valentine met Charlotte Caffey, who founded the Go-Go’s in 1978, and she soon became the band’s replacement bassist. Fueled by a heady combination of cocaine and steely determination, Valentine jumped right in to play a series of sold-out early shows. The author draws from impeccably archived personal journals, band itineraries, and Filofax calendars to recall her time with the band from its inception to peak popularity. Her whirlwind path to fame was also littered with dysfunction, especially her drinking and rampant drug use, which coincided with skyrocketing record sales. A crushing band breakup in 1985—fueled by a “deep disconnect between the way we saw ourselves and the way we were presented to the public”—was as brutally humbling as her time in recovery. Valentine doesn’t skimp on the details of both the raucous partying and the many mistakes and failings that chastened her as a woman and a musician. Her candid narration is confident and consistently infused with personality, and a generous section of photographs illustrates her chronology. Despite the Go-Go’s’ rough edges and ups and downs, Valentine, now 61, acknowledges their unique all-female presence in rock history, and she concludes with updates on reunion tours and hope for the future. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

A vibrantly self-aware rock memoir buzzing with music, drugs, sisterhood, and blissful redemption.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1233-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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