A three-cheers homage to an America that, Bennett suggests, is returning to its open-arms promise of days past.

(RE)BORN IN THE USA

AN ENGLISHMAN'S LOVE LETTER TO HIS CHOSEN HOME

A fan’s notes on the beckoning city on the hill, the America of old.

"America existed almost as an alternate planet to me, a place filled with possibility and promise, where life seemed to be lived with a different gravitational pull.” So writes Liverpudlian Bennett, the descendant of a Russian Jew who left home to go to America and mistakenly got off in the U.K. instead—all reason enough for the author to have considered himself, from his earliest years, as “an American trapped in an Englishman’s body.” If his parents and schoolmates were sometimes bemused by his attachment to such emblems of American popular culture as Saturday Night Live, he found encouragement in the teacher he fondly calls “Fat Knacker,” who told tales of an America that welcomed newcomers and promised grand adventures. Most of Bennett’s entertaining memoir takes place in the U.K., though at the end, he finally arrives in the U.S., first in Chicago and then in New York. “For me, the United States has proven to be a land so free, you even allow bald blokes with accents to appear on television,” he writes appreciatively, having logged many hours as the co-host of Men in Blazers, a popular soccer-focused sports show. Bennett is good-natured, self-deprecating, and wryly observant throughout, recounting a disastrous bar mitzvah, feckless romances, teenage infatuations, and suchlike things. He takes a serious turn, though, when he writes about when he finally became an American, a time when the nation was presided over by a racist xenophobe. “The fact I had become a citizen at the very time the United States became so turbulent and chaotic was crushing,” he writes, noting that like so many other immigrants, he had come to the country on a tourist visa and simply stayed on, never having had to cultivate the fear of authorities that so many other would-be Americans have to endure.

A three-cheers homage to an America that, Bennett suggests, is returning to its open-arms promise of days past.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-295869-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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