A fresh, daring exploration of lived experience.


A trans woman reflects on her changing identity in this revelatory memoir.

Scott-Clary, a computer programmer and the editor-in-chief of publisher Hybrid Ink, recounts a long transition in the form of a dialogue between herself and an inquisitive alter ego named “ally.” She offers a complex and psychologically fraught story about “past me”: Matthew, a gay teen with an insensitive father and homophobic stepfather who immersed himself in the furry community and developed an aversion to messy, real-life sex, preferring phone sex or typing out fantasies with online partners. A stable relationship with a gay man developed into marriage, which included polyamory. Scott-Clary wrestled with bipolar disorder, tics and balance problems caused by medications, and a dissociative episode that led to a suicide attempt. The author had gender reassignment surgery in her late 20s that made her feel more comfortable in her own skin. This book, which began as an interactive online writing project, is a multigenre work that includes poetry, snippets of fiction, artwork, and many original musical compositions. Most of the text consists of autobiographical conversation, which meanders at times, especially in sections in which the author talks about her writing process. Still, Scott-Clary is a talented writer who conveys her inner world in a way that’s cleareyed yet powerfully immediate, from the helplessness of a suicide attempt (“It was like the rush of coming to your senses after a nightmare, the pulling forward and the re-anchoring, the flood of adrenaline in preparation for flight”) to her postoperative blossoming (“The first time I looked in the mirror and saw the trace of femininity. The softening of skin. The first ‘she’ on the street. The first ‘ma’am’ on the phone. Hell, the first time dressing feminine”). Scott-Clary isn’t afraid to take creative risks, and they pay off in an often engrossing portrait.

A fresh, daring exploration of lived experience.

Pub Date: June 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-948743-15-0

Page Count: 476

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?