Having relative unknowns document Tupac’s meteoric rise and abrupt end is risky, but Pearce demonstrates his impact.

CHANGES

AN ORAL HISTORY OF TUPAC SHAKUR

There’s a Tupac Shakur–sized hole in the middle of this compelling oral history about the revered rapper and actor and his legacy—and that’s by design.

Pearce, a music writer and editor at the New Yorker, wanted to use only new interviews for the project, which means that the words of the late rapper and Juice actor don’t appear much in a book about him, aside from the occasional footnote. For various other reasons, his family and inner circle don’t say much either. Conspicuously missing are conversations with his Black Panther mother Afeni Shakur or Death Row Records co-founder Suge Knight. Instead, we hear from people who know parts of Shakur’s story, including teachers, friends from early in his career, and reporters and authors. Their insights are more about Shakur the man rather than 2Pac the myth: his quick temper and heartfelt apologies, loyalty and paranoia, and well-documented work ethic. But they pale in comparison to Shakur’s work and the way he has previously described his life and art with his own charismatic delivery. As Pearce writes in the author’s note, “it quickly became a balancing act: Where to provide insight versus where to provide clarity?” The success of that balancing act will depend on the reader. Shakur fans looking for new details about how their hero approached his biggest albums and movie roles won’t find much new here. However, Pearce’s interviews provide interesting background on the East Coast–West Coast rap rivalry and offer more clarity about who may have killed Shakur in Las Vegas in 1996 at age 25—even though no formal charges have ever been filed. Those are the times when this book feels like essential Tupac reading rather than a nice supplement.

Having relative unknowns document Tupac’s meteoric rise and abrupt end is risky, but Pearce demonstrates his impact.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982170-46-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2021

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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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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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