An energetic, if conventional, memoir of achievement through hard work.

WELFARE CHEESE TO FINE CAVIAR

HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS DESPITE YOUR UPBRINGING

Wideman offers tips on how to achieve financial success in this motivational remembrance.

As its title implies, this is a rags-to-riches tale. Raised in a poor household with three brothers, he worked hard to get an education and succeed in the business world: “my life has come full circle from the cross-eyed little boy who grew up in the projects of Greenville, South Carolina to the successful family man living in Metro Atlanta,” he writes. This book is an account of that journey, complete with lessons he learned along the way. He shares stories of getting in fights with kids in his apartment complex and committing acts of petty theft with buddies. It was after a rumble with a former friend that Wideman decided he wanted a different sort of life when he grew up—away from the violence and stress of his old neighborhood. Wideman was able to attend college by joining the U.S. Army Reserve, eventually attaining a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of South Carolina and an MBA in finance from Georgia State University. His professional career was not without rocky patches—he was passed over for promotions many times—but he eventually achieved a managerial position at a Fortune 500 company. Along the way, he married, had children, and he and his wife bought a small bakery, and he praised God for his success. As Wideman tells his story, he pauses to help readers get the most out of his experiences. He particularly encourages readers to avoid what he calls the “Welfare Cheese Mindset,” which includes being “Risk-averse,” “Reactive,” “Nearsighted,” and “Peer-driven,” among other things.

Wideman’s prose is conversational and often enthusiastic, even when talking about the people who stood in his path during his journey: “The kid who lunged a knife at me is no different than the coworker who tried to attack my character or quality of work, took credit for my work, or lied about me. He perceived me as a threat and chose to attack me to distinguish himself in some way.” Each chapter ends with a motivational section, mostly broken down into “Reflection,” “Application,” “Professional Tidbit,” and “Caviar Time,” the last of which contains an affirmation with a religious element: “God will place people in my life to help me and others to test my resolve. I need them both. I got this!” Wideman’s philosophy is in the tradition of familiar respectability politics: Do a good job, kill others with kindness, and trust that things will work out OK. There are limits to such a strategy, however, as not every aspiring youngster will necessarily have the requisite skills or personality type to find success. That said, much of the author’s advice is solid, and his stories may prove an inspiration for readers who’ve faced similar push back in their pursuit of professional success. Wideman achieved the American dream the old-fashioned way, and plenty of his readers will want to follow in his footsteps.

An energetic, if conventional, memoir of achievement through hard work.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7364630-0-0

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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 lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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