A candid, sometimes prosaic memoir of coping with grief and moving forward.

WIDOWISH

An award-winning screenwriter’s account of how she survived the unexpected death of her beloved husband and learned to navigate life on her own.

Gould had been married for 10 years when doctors diagnosed her healthy, athletic husband, Joel, with multiple sclerosis. Joel managed his illness well with drugs, but as he neared his 50th birthday, "the MS was getting hard to ignore.” Then, two months after he turned 50, Joel suddenly became ill with West Nile virus, which left him paralyzed and brain damaged. Gould had to make the extremely painful decision to end life support. Afterward, her life felt like an "uphill" climb that offered no reprieve from the feelings of loss she suffered, and she spent each night remembering Joel with her daughter. “In the dark weeks that followed,” she writes, “there were beacons of light shining a path for Sophie and me to follow.” Financial worries added "to the stress of grief.” She began looking for signs of Joel's love for her and believed she found it when she accidentally stumbled across a Joel Osteen radio program that promoted positive spirituality and gratitude. A psychic medium later told the author that Joel “was still with” her and that he approved of the new man that the psychic predicted would enter her life. Not long after that, Gould finally began to refer to herself as a widow despite her preconceived notion that such women were "old, wrinkled, tragic. Wearing black. Maybe even a veil.” Acknowledgment of who she had become led to other breakthroughs, including friendships with other widows who led full lives and a passionate connection with a musician. The main strength of this memoir is Gould’s insight into the impact that spousal loss has on personal identity. Though not a standout in this genre, Gould's book will appeal to women seeking to understand the meaning of widowhood.

A candid, sometimes prosaic memoir of coping with grief and moving forward.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1878-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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 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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