Much eloquent—often lyrical—evidence that the author deserved his Nobel Prize.

PERSONAL WRITINGS

A collection of brief, piercing personal pieces by the 1957 Nobel laureate.

In a selection of essays from the 1930s to the 1950s, Camus (1913-1960) reveals himself to readers, discussing his affections, regrets, memories, problems, complaints, and ideas about art and writing. He writes frequently about his youth in Algeria (where he was born), and in a particularly poignant piece near the end, he revisits Tipasa (Tipaza), Roman ruins not far from where he grew up. He notes that “returning to places of youth” can be “a great folly,” but he clearly demonstrates otherwise in this essay. The author also writes incisively about war (both world wars), the meanings of cemeteries, the sea and sun and rain and the desert, and youth and age: “No longer to be listened to: that’s the terrible thing about being old…condemned to silence and loneliness.” Throughout are numerous classical allusions (to historical figures and events, to mythology); there’s a particularly fine piece about Prometheus and his sacrifices for humanity. “If Prometheus were to reappear,” he writes, “modern man would treat him as the gods did long ago: they would nail him to a rock, in the name of the very humanism he was the first to symbolize.” Camus sometimes chides the human race, but he sees hope in us, as well. Although he writes quite a bit about Algeria, he also describes some experiences elsewhere in the world (Paris, New York), and he sets the final essay aboard a trans-Atlantic ship. He discourses about the weather, the sailors, and the enormity of it all: “We sail across spaces so vast they seem unending.” What will strike many readers is the author’s extraordinarily evocative language, his astonishing facility to create memorable phrases and take readers to places most have never been but who, because of his artistry, feel immediately at home.

Much eloquent—often lyrical—evidence that the author deserved his Nobel Prize.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-56721-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

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PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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