A powerful meditation on life in a bubble and the attempts to escape it.


A writer chronicles a youth troubled by violence, poverty, and religious extremism.

While debut author Beard was a toddler growing up in Palm Springs, California, her parents “transformed from devout but reasonable Christians into strict fundamentalists.” She was raised in the Desert Chapel church, where she grew accustomed to demonic possessions, speaking in tongues, and grand prophesies. According to the author, her father, despite an “ineffable charisma” that often charmed women, was mercurially violent, and Beard experienced both “humiliation and the pain of betrayal” in the aftermath. They were poor—one reliable characteristic of her parents was their “unerring financial ineptitude”—and as a result, she learned to manage hunger and chronic scarcity as well as the shame that came with it. The author hid her rapidly failing eyesight until a sixth grade teacher, to his astonishment, discovered how poor it was and a doctor pronounced her legally blind. Beard was mortified that her spirituality was not strong enough to improve her eyesight through faith healing. The author affectingly details a transient childhood addled by insecurity, and the consoling retreat she found in drugs, running away, and, most potently, in reveries disconnected from reality: “The combination of poverty’s opacity, Dad’s itinerant tendencies, and our family’s religious and intellectual isolation fed grandiose fantasies of fairy-tale outcomes.” Beard writes with poetical elegance, poignantly capturing the degradations heaped upon her by well-meaning parents and the escape she found in college, especially in music and creative writing, even though she lived in a “camper trailer smaller than most prison cells.” She doggedly pursues answers to unsolvable mysteries—how precisely had her mother been drawn into such religious extremism? The story itself is as remarkable as it is inspiring, and the author thoughtfully and candidly depicts her life on the fringes of society, distanced from the world by her parents’ choices.

A powerful meditation on life in a bubble and the attempts to escape it.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9906333-6-5

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Zone 3 Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 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 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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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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