A captivatingly eloquent memoir.

FAIREST

A MEMOIR

An award-winning journalist tells the story of how she came to terms with a complex identity that forced her to navigate issues of gender, race, and class.

In 2017, Philippine-born "Harvard Man" Talusan returned to her alma mater as a woman. She had first arrived there in 1993 as the male “anak araw,” an albino her grandmother believed would one day live among other whites in America. A former child star, Talusan learned early on that she could parlay whiteness into a source of money and power. She also learned that her difference was more than skin deep: In sixth grade, she became “hopelessly smitten” with a male friend. The homosexual crushes continued through adolescence along with vague stirrings of a secret desire to be a woman who, like Lea Salonga in Miss Saigon, was “capable of getting a rugged and kind [American] man to fall in love with her.” Talusan moved with her parents to California, where she earned a scholarship to Harvard. There, she quickly learned the benefits of using her albinism and indeterminately Asian features to pass for an exotic-looking Caucasian. She came out as gay, but she was unable to reconcile her desire for womanhood with her life as a gay male. During her final year in college, she developed a sexually explicit one-person show called Dancing Deviant, and she began a relationship with a white, upper-class MIT professor who introduced her to a life of privilege. However, she soon realized that his desire for her ran counter to her own wish to be desired as that “beguiling woman who stared at me from the other side of the mirror whenever I put on makeup.” The author examines queer otherness with relentless honesty, and she investigates how accidental whiteness did not automatically lead to the fairest outcomes, either for herself or others.

A captivatingly eloquent memoir.

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-56130-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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

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A PROMISED LAND

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

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

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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