Fans of T.S.O.L., Fargo Rock City, Scratch Acid, and their like should rush to this invigorating history.

WE'RE NOT HERE TO ENTERTAIN

PUNK ROCK, RONALD REAGAN, AND THE REAL CULTURE WAR OF 1980S AMERICA

In which Ronnie Raygun and corporate entertainment come in for a slagging, courtesy of three (distorted) chords and the truth.

If you wanted to get beat up in high school in the early 1980s, your best strategy would be to show up with your “hair cut into a spikey mess” and listening to punk rock—not the sellout punk of the decade before but truly antinomian acts like Black Flag, Millions of Dead Cops, and Jodie Foster’s Army. That cohort of musicians and their fans, writes Mattson—now a professor of history at Ohio University, then a denizen of the mosh pit—stood strongly against the prevailing politics of the time, with a president who “lived in a bubble of entertainment, who referenced Hollywood films to justify his policies.” The DIY ethos of second-generation punk extended beyond music to include filmmaking (Alex Cox’s Repo Man comes in for close analysis), publishing (with mimeographed zines the coin of the realm), art, and other endeavors. This was all in protest against not just Reaganism, but also a corporate culture that served up product instead of music—and whose vision of what youth was supposed to be, courtesy of the Republican-lite John Hughes, was an offense to actual young people. “It was like People’s Park,” Mattson writes, “create something yourself, lay the sod, and then defend it against those with power.” True, some of the leaders of second-wave punk found themselves being served up as product: Once Nirvana broke, for instance, MTV couldn’t find enough grunge bands to fill the hours. Still, writes the author in this consistently fascinating music history, we should remember the punk rock of the ’80s both for its creativity and “as a moment when kids saw themselves as creating their own culture, prompting them to think about the world differently”—not bad as aspirations go.

Fans of T.S.O.L., Fargo Rock City, Scratch Acid, and their like should rush to this invigorating history.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-19-090823-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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