A lively and enthusiastic surfing account.

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BAD KARMA

THE TRUE STORY OF A MEXICO TRIP FROM HELL

A surfer recalls a calamitous road trip to Mexico with two cohorts in this debut memoir.

“There were two classes of residents: Those who had surfed mainland Mexico, and those who wanted to,” remarks Wilson regarding “The Manor,” a San Diego, California, surfing community. In the summer of 1978, the author snatched the opportunity to take a road trip to do just that. A self-confessed “hanger-on,” Wilson, nicknamed “Paul E. Opters,” was roped into the trip by “Moose” and “Jelly,” two esteemed surfers, because he owned a vehicle. The three 20-somethings packed the author’s Volkswagen bus to the brim and headed south for the border, but not before it was revealed that Moose was skipping bail to go to Mexico. The bus took the travelers through Tijuana before following the Baja Norte coastline to La Paz, where a perilous ferry crossing to Puerto Vallarta brought them closer to the surf paradise of La Ticla on the Mexican mainland. The trip was punctuated with disaster, mostly linked to Wilson’s unreliable and ironically nicknamed “Wonderbus.” The author also recalls a chance meeting with the infamous drug cartel leader El Chapo. On arrival at La Ticla, the author evocatively describes the group’s time spent surfing and living in a palm frond beach shelter called a palapa. The location is observed distinctly through a surfer’s eye: “La Ticla is a classic point break, a bulge in the coastline formed by countless cycles of muddy storm water pouring into the ocean via the arroyo, the debris settling to the bottom.” Surfing enthusiasts may be disappointed to find that only a fraction of the memoir captures the joy of the sport, preferring to focus on the minutiae of the road trip. Moments of extreme tension are recounted with high energy, but this approach is occasionally overused: “How can my mouth be so dry and my skin so wet? Damn, it’s quiet. I don’t remember the fluorescent lights humming before. Check my watch again. 12:43. You’ve got to be kidding me.” Illustrated with Wilson’s photographs throughout, this fun read captures a bygone age of surfing life and will be of interest to anyone who loves the West Coast scene.

A lively and enthusiastic surfing account. (map)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2019

ISBN: 14.99

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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