A sparse, lovely ode to the discovery of the simple life amid a global pandemic.

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A HOME REMADE, A LIFE REDISCOVERED

The veteran actor’s latest memoir chronicles the pastoral life she and her husband, actor/director Timothy Busfield, lived during the early days of the pandemic.

In 2020, Gilbert and Busfield left their New York City apartment to live full time in their rural “Cabbage,” a cross between a cabin and a cottage. They renovated the house, started raising chickens, and began farming the land, all while trying to adjust to the slower pace of life outside of Manhattan. That transition began in 2013, when they married and moved to Michigan. “Life was simple, personal, intimate, and very different from LA,” writes Gilbert. “I melted right into the slow lane.” Of course, that did not last for long. The author got involved in the Michigan governor’s race and then became a Democratic candidate for Congress, though she had to drop out of the race due to the return of a neck injury and recurring chronic pain—not to mention the vagaries of politics, which included up to eight hours each day “dialing for dollars.” However, the bulk of her book is about the couple’s move to the country and what they learned there during the pandemic. “Maybe all the time in the country has made me more philosophical….We are being given an opportunity to see the consequences of our disregard for our home and each other,” writes the author. “We are being asked what really matters. What do we need to do to survive into the future?” Via breezy, seemingly effortless storytelling, Gilbert shows us how less can be more, fashioning a rapidly paced, straightforward tale about slowing down into life in quarantine and the opportunities that presented. “If I can help make someone feel less isolated, scared, or lonely,” she writes, “I am doing my job.”

A sparse, lovely ode to the discovery of the simple life amid a global pandemic.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9821-7718-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2022

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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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