An unflinchingly honest portrait of grief and survival that many fellow travelers will find comforting.



A veteran journalist shares the anguish of losing a son to suicide in this debut memoir that tracks her painful path to acceptance.

On Aug. 28, 2010, Thomson received a devastating phone call from her daughter-in-law. Kieran, the author’s son from her first marriage, had fatally shot himself. He was just a few months shy of his 23rd birthday, married, and the father of an almost 2-year-old daughter, Ailbe. In January 2009, he had enlisted in the Army. The decision filled Thomson with alarm, but Kieran was convinced this was his best option. He was trained as a medic, and he and his family were living at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, awaiting his deployment to Afghanistan. Kieran became one of 14 suicides at Fort Bragg that year. The narrative shifts back and forth seamlessly between present and past. Everything during the next two years triggered a memory from all the yesterdays with Kieran. The author reviews the pivotal events in his life—his birth in London; Thomson and her son’s move to her home in Tennessee; her new marriage; the birth of her son Matthew; and Kieran’s troubled teenage years. She writes: “Something, it seemed, wasn’t quite right” early on. Kieran was diagnosed with a newly classified learning disability that made social interactions difficult. The author brings readers along with her through the emotionally wrenching ordeal of a memorial service at Fort Bragg, the funeral in Middle Tennessee, and another memorial service at her family church in Memphis—all articulately and painstakingly chronicled. She muses: “Death seems to have a lot to do with logistics, I think. Moving from point A to point B.” But suicide adds its own excruciating dimension to the tragedy, telling “the shell-shocked survivor in the most horrific way imaginable that no matter what you did, it wasn’t enough.” Still, after two meticulously documented years of pushing through a gripping and toxic mix of sorrow, wide-ranging anger, and guilt, she takes a wonderfully surprising “leap” toward the future.

An unflinchingly honest portrait of grief and survival that many fellow travelers will find comforting.  

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-693-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 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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