A book of ephemera that makes up in breadth for what it lacks in depth.

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PIECES

Dawson offers excerpts from his novel Cottonwood (2012), a few line drawings, plus blog posts on everything from Twitter to Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea.

Based on jottings Dawson made in a notebook while awaiting cancer treatments at the University of Colorado cancer center in Aurora, this slim volume presents a year’s worth of his random musings on a wide range of subjects. Originally published on his website, the short entries touch lightly on such topics as Dilbert comic strips, dementia, the film Amour (2012), NASA’s Curiosity rover, folk musician Sixto Rodriquez, the May/June 2007 issue of National Geographic Traveler, and how these days, thanks to the Internet, “not-so-smart people can publish their own books, and people with...smart devices can, with a couple of key strokes, begin reading the hubris in the privacy of…restroom stalls.” The collection also includes a dozen or so excerpts from the author’s novel, Cottonwood, many only a paragraph in length, plus a series of sketches that may remind some readers of James Thurber’s drawings at their minimalist best. Interestingly, for a cancer patient—and Vietnam veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange—Dawson makes scant reference either to the illness or the war. On the latter, for instance, he offers little more than clichés: “Some things can’t be understood” and “It is what it is.” On the other hand, since the “pieces” are superficial as well as brief, they are easy to sample. Readers could dip into the book anywhere and read as little as they wish, though perhaps not as much as they might have hoped. In particular, fans of Dawson’s blog may enjoy having his posts available in printed form.

A book of ephemera that makes up in breadth for what it lacks in depth.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2013

ISBN: 9781492195740

Page Count: 160

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

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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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Gucci demonstrates all the bravado and ferocious self-confidence that he counsels—and the photos are a nice bonus.

THE GUCCI MANE GUIDE TO GREATNESS

A hip-hop star who went on his first international tour wearing an ankle monitor explains how to succeed.

“The words you are about to read can help you,” writes Gucci. “That’s because there is truth in them. These are words of wisdom, like the Bible and its proverbs.” Unquestionably, Gucci likes to aim high, as many of his proverbs attest: “Stop Underestimating Yourself”; “Whatever You’re Thinking, Think Bigger”; “Nobody Cares. Work Harder”; “When They Sleep, I’m Grinding”; “Do More, Get More.” And never forget, “Women Are Brilliant.” Gucci not only shares his recipes for success. As in a cookbook that shows pictures of the end result, the author includes dozens of dazzling photos of himself and his beautiful wife, among them a series on his surprise wedding proposal at an Atlanta Hawks game. After the success of his bestselling debut, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane, Gucci has realized there is money to be made in the book business. In addition to the Bible, he has his eye on Malcolm Gladwell and his reported $5 million advances. While he is “cool with Malcolm Gladwell being more celebrated than me as an author…the difference between Malcolm Gladwell and me is that I’m going to make more money because I’m going to make so many books for my following….You can enjoy this book or not, but I’m going to make my fifty-second book, my hundred and eighth book.” Many readers will hope that one of them will be a diet book, as the 100-plus pounds Gucci has lost and kept off are a frequent topic—alas, he doesn’t reveal his weight loss secrets here. Until the next book, try to live the Gucci Mane way. “Avoid lazy and miserable people,” and “Find something to be excited about every day.”

Gucci demonstrates all the bravado and ferocious self-confidence that he counsels—and the photos are a nice bonus.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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