An often beautiful survey of tragedy and rebuilding.

ON THE WAY TO CASA LOTUS

A MEMOIR OF FAMILY, ART, INJURY, AND FORGIVENESS

In this debut memoir, an art collector tells of undergoing surgery in her early 30s and how it upended her life and destroyed her health.

In this moving story of hope, empowerment, and forgiveness, Margain grapples with a life-altering mistake and chronicles her emotional journey to Casa Lotus—a home in Texas Hill Country that, as the book opens, she and her husband, Eduardo, have planned but not yet built. The Mexican-born Margain notes that “family is everything in Mexican culture,” and she describes how she moved with her own family from Monterrey to Mexico City at the age of 12 and, later, to Austin, Texas, carrying her culture with her. Endearing scenes of later meeting her husband in New York City, and their years of marriage and building the Margain-Junco Collection of art together, pepper the narrative. One day, several months after her son was born in 2012, the 30-something author visited her doctor and told him that she sensed that something was wrong with her, although she lacked “any real symptoms.” At the time, Margain was raising three young children, including a newborn, and dealing with the loss of her grandmotherand her sister’s cancer diagnosis. Her doctor told her that she might have depression, but she felt that something else was going on. She visited multiple physicians, and a CT scan later revealed a tumor on her adrenal gland, which a surgeon removed. However, something went wrong during the procedure, the author says, which profoundly altered her life. Margain’s remembrance superbly details how people can find freedom and healing in forgiveness, and her story will resonate with readers who are seeking hope, a sense of spirituality, and faith that things happen for a reason. With that goal in mind, the memoir cites Buddhist teachings from spiritual teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh, biblical passages (“The truth shall set you free”), thoughts from Hindu gurus, and secular conceptions of integrity and morality. She also offers insights on how anger—particularly female anger, which, she asserts, is often repressed—can also be a potent productive force.

An often beautiful survey of tragedy and rebuilding.

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7363905-0-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Cuco Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2021

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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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