A gift for die-hard Garnett fans with less appeal for casual hoops fans and general readers.

KG A TO Z

AN UNCENSORED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIFE, BASKETBALL, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN

The life and career of one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

Like many sports and celebrity memoirs, this one is a mixed bag. Early in the book, Garnett, writing with Ritz, admits to not being “the kind of dude who’s gonna kick back on the couch with a book for an hour or two.” Therefore, “I wanna write the kind of book I’d wanna read. I wanted to change it up, do it differently.” The kind of book Garnett, who has ADD, ADHD, and dyslexia, would want to read is encyclopedic in form: short entries that allow readers to experience reading as he does: “read a page or two, and then bounce.” In the same vein as Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, this book challenges formal expectations while finally adhering to them. The narrative of Garnett’s life doesn’t run straight through the book, but it zigzags intuitively, rendered in candid prose rife with incomplete sentences. The encyclopedia entries read as if Ritz transcribed them from Garnett’s unscripted recordings. While the text captures the peerless intensity that Garnett displayed on the court, it can be exhausting to engage with for longer than the recommended “page or two.” However, there are exceptions that show the author’s wit—e.g., the entry, in full, for Wu-Tang Clan: “Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit”—and it’s refreshing when we encounter the thoughtful Garnett. Writing about retirement, for example, he notes, “I didn’t always like myself when I was playing. I was a different person. I transformed. I wasn’t Kevin….I don’t go around moping that I ain’t playing no more. I watch NBA games on TV with pleasure, not regret. I don’t fantasize about being out there.” It’s unfortunate that such self-reflection isn’t on display as much as one might expect from such an energetic, outspoken personality.

A gift for die-hard Garnett fans with less appeal for casual hoops fans and general readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982170-32-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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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