An informative but emotionally remote journey through modern-day Nepal.
A writer recounts his spiritual trek through a remote region of the Himalayas.
In 2017, with his 40th birthday soon approaching, Italian writer Cognetti was inspired to embark on an expedition in the Dolpo in northwestern Nepal. Accompanying the author was a team of nine travelers, including a childhood friend from Italy, a painter he had recently met, and several local Sherpa guides along with their mules. Their plan was to trek hundreds of kilometers across often uninhabited mountains, ascending to heights over 5,500 meters. “There is a whole region,” he writes, “above four thousand meters untouched by the monsoons or paved roads—the most arid, remote, and least populated part of the country. Perhaps up there, I said to myself, I could see the Tibet that no longer exists, that none of us can see anymore. This was the journey I wanted for my fortieth birthday, a fitting way to celebrate my farewell to that other lost kingdom: youth.” Cognetti’s journey was also greatly inspired by the Peter Matthiessen classic The Snow Leopard. Throughout, he liberally references and quotes Matthiesen, and while following a similar path, he revisits memorable locations from that book. The emerging parallels in their stories unfortunately expose Cognetti’s weakness as a storyteller. The author is a fine travel writer, investing his narrative with vivid insights into the present-day Nepalese region and sharing the often grueling physical effects of traversing through these high altitudes. Yet his personal context for the undertaking is vague. Matthiessen’s physical and spiritual journey is deeply enhanced by the intimate and emotional experiences of his past; his spiritually enlightening memoir is often moving. Readers unfamiliar with Cognetti’s previous work may come away from this slender narrative feeling they know little about him.An informative but emotionally remote journey through modern-day Nepal. (illustrations)
Pub Date: June 23, 2020
Page Count: 160
Review Posted Online: March 21, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020
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by Matthew McConaughey ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 20, 2020
A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020
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by Anne Heche ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 24, 2023
A sweet final word from an actor who leaves a legacy of compassion and kindness.
The late actor offers a gentle guide for living with more purpose, love, and joy.
Mixing poetry, prescriptive challenges, and elements of memoir, Heche (1969-2022) delivers a narrative that is more encouraging workbook than life story. The author wants to share what she has discovered over the course of a life filled with abuse, advocacy, and uncanny turning points. Her greatest discovery? Love. “Open yourself up to love and transform kindness from a feeling you extend to those around you to actions that you perform for them,” she writes. “Only by caring can we open ourselves up to the universe, and only by opening up to the universe can we fully experience all the wonders that it holds, the greatest of which is love.” Throughout the occasionally overwrought text, Heche is heavy on the concept of care. She wants us to experience joy as she does, and she provides a road map for how to get there. Instead of slinking away from Hollywood and the ridicule that she endured there, Heche found the good and hung on, with Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford starring as particularly shining knights in her story. Some readers may dismiss this material as vapid Hollywood stuff, but Heche’s perspective is an empathetic blend of Buddhism (minimize suffering), dialectical behavioral therapy (tolerating distress), Christianity (do unto others), and pre-Socratic philosophy (sufficient reason). “You’re not out to change the whole world, but to increase the levels of love and kindness in the world, drop by drop,” she writes. “Over time, these actions wear away the coldness, hate, and indifference around us as surely as water slowly wearing away stone.” Readers grieving her loss will take solace knowing that she lived her love-filled life on her own terms. Heche’s business and podcast partner, Heather Duffy, writes the epilogue, closing the book on a life well lived.A sweet final word from an actor who leaves a legacy of compassion and kindness.
Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Viva Editions
Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023
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