It’s not Bourdain, but Mintz’s account will make readers more knowledgeable eaters.

THE NEXT SUPPER

THE END OF RESTAURANTS AS WE KNEW THEM, AND WHAT COMES AFTER

A flinty-eyed look at the world of food and how the pandemic has exposed some of its uglier aspects.

“My quest is nothing less than figuring out how to eat restaurant food and not be an asshole,” writes Mintz, who became a restaurant reviewer after working as a chef, a career trajectory that’s rarer than one might think. That the restaurant world died, by his lights, in 2020 doesn’t mean it won’t come back. However, it must shed some bad associations. For one, the author zeroes in on the genius chef who delivers abusive tirades on line cooks and servers, his nose stuffed with cocaine, his belly full of booze. Such people exist, Mintz allows, but their time has passed, and many have fallen (think Mario Batali). Why the drugs? Why does every cook, it seems, smoke? Because those chefs set insane paces, and “smoking is often the only excuse, during a long day, for leaving the kitchen or getting off your feet.” Those long hours are usually rewarded with substandard pay, and of course the whole restaurant world operates on tips, which Mintz neatly links to Reconstruction-era evasions of paying emancipated slaves a fair wage—an evasion now applied to a demographic heavy on women and immigrants. Regarding the latter, Mintz counsels that a little family-run kitchen on the outskirts of town is your best bet since the inner core is too expensive except for the giants. He advises that we order food to be delivered directly from the restaurant and not by third-party delivery services, which he considers predatory; that tips be paid in cash; that diners not chase the newest restaurant on the block (“Restaurants are built to age gradually into their best selves. The moment at which we shower them with attention is precisely when they’re not ready for it”); and that we value food and its providers more than we now do, once we emerge from the bunker.

It’s not Bourdain, but Mintz’s account will make readers more knowledgeable eaters.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5417-5840-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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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