Quietly powerful, deftly crafted essays bear witness to the contagion of suffering.

READ REVIEW

INTIMATIONS

SIX ESSAYS

Rueful, angry, deftly-crafted and potent responses to ominous times.

With 2020 barely “halfway done,” fiction writer and essayist Smith offers an incisive collection of short pieces reflecting, she writes, “some of the feelings and thoughts that events, so far, have provoked in me.” Those events, not surprisingly, center around the pandemic but also include the killing of George Floyd and the worldwide response to racial injustice that the murder incited. Sheltered with her family, Smith reflects on the meaning of creativity, particularly writing, which seems at once a way to gain control (“when I am writing, space and time itself bend to my will!”) and a way to fill time. “There is no great difference between novels and banana bread,” she writes. “They are both just something to do.” Yet these essays clearly have emerged from profound “moral anxiety” about privilege, hatred, and oppression: of “contempt as a virus.” The pandemic, she notes, has underscored pervasive inequality and injustice. “Untimely death has rarely been random in these United States,” she writes. “It has usually had a precise physiognomy, location, and bottom line.” At the heart of those distinctions is racism, laid bare by Floyd’s murder: “It was the virus, in its most lethal manifestation.” She once thought, she writes, “that there would one day be a vaccine: that if enough people named the virus, explained it, demonstrated how it operates, videoed its effects, revealed how widespread it really is, how the symptoms arise, how irresponsibly and shamefully too many Americans keep giving it to each other, generation after generation, causing intolerable and unending damage both to individual bodies and to the body politic—I thought, if that knowledge became as widespread as could possibly be managed or imagined, we might finally reach some kind of herd immunity. I don’t think that any more.” In just under 100 pages, Smith intimately captures the profundity of our current historical moment.

Quietly powerful, deftly crafted essays bear witness to the contagion of suffering.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-29761-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more