Tenderly balanced, deeply insightful writing with a few minor flaws.

GENERATION ZERO

RECLAIMING MY PARENTS' AMERICAN DREAM

In this frank debut memoir, Rajeev outlines the difficulties of growing up in America as the daughter of Indian immigrants.

“My father was so upset that I was born a girl, he literally became mad at God,” reflects Rajeev who was born in Queens in 1990. Being a daughter meant that she was not only “unwanted,” but “born without a voice.” The author seeks to understand her heritage, accomplish the dreams her parents abandoned, and find a voice of her own. She starts by recalling her father’s arrival in the United States—a boat worker who entered the country as an undocumented immigrant by jumping ship in New Orleans. She recounts his struggle to obtain a green card after venturing to New York and how her mother gave birth to her while in the U.S. on a visitor visa. Rajeev explains the precariousness of the immigrant experience, which often depends on the kindness of strangers. She describes enduring racism, particularly after 9/11, and some of her triumphs, including earning her doctorate in sociology. Rajeev’s writing provides a fresh, forthright catalog of the demands placed on immigrant families, which are “always compromising their wellbeing, whether that be mental or physical, to provide structure to their family.” The author’s balanced viewpoint considers her parents’ hidden pain as well as her own: “He was ok with having his daughter hate him. He hated himself right now too.” Rajeev places significant emphasis on her father’s experiences, which are integral to her story, but in a memoir that explores female subjugation, some readers may expect the narrative to be framed with women as a priority. Also, the dialogue, which is presented in script form, is bland, and would benefit from being integrated into the text: “Other kids: You’re Indian? Me: Yes. Other kids: So, you must be really smart. Me: I don’t know.” Still, this is a valuable unpacking of Indian immigrant life—its restrictions and possibilities—from the perspective of an astute author.

Tenderly balanced, deeply insightful writing with a few minor flaws.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5445-1716-2

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Lioncrest Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2021

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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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