A high-spirited yet surface-level glimpse into the life of one of the planet’s last rock stars.

THE STORYTELLER

TALES OF LIFE AND MUSIC

The Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman shares anecdotes from his (mostly) charmed life in rock ’n’ roll.

Grohl’s memoir is thick with name-drops, but not for the sake of gossip or even revelatory detail. (Fans likely won’t learn anything about Kurt Cobain they didn’t already know, except perhaps his choice for cheap sustenance in the band’s pre-fame days, a canned-tuna-on-toast concoction dubbed “shit on a shingle.”) Rather, Grohl’s name-drops are of the “can you believe I get to do this for a living” variety: backing Tom Petty and Iggy Pop, meeting musical heroes from Little Richard to Joan Jett, singing “Blackbird” at the Oscars, performing at the White House, and filling arenas all over the world. As the book’s entertaining early pages reveal, Grohl was an unlikely candidate for global stardom. An accident-prone kid and unschooled drummer raised in a middle-class suburb of Washington, D.C., he caught the punk bug at a Naked Raygun show in Chicago, later dropping out of high school to join Scream. Though Scream was only moderately popular, Grohl thought he'd reached the mountaintop, so Nirvana’s massive fame, followed by Cobain’s suicide, was seriously disorienting. Still, the author is upbeat even when talking about lean or tense moments, like when his body finally pushed back against his five-pot-a-day coffee habit. Grohl is good company, but the gee-whiz tone as well as the clichés (hanging out with the members of metal band Pantera is “not for the faint of heart”) make the book feel like a missed opportunity. Grohl survived a massive band’s collapse and leads another hugely successful act in a genre that’s no longer dominant. Rather than exploring that, he’s largely content to celebrate his good fortune. Perhaps when he finally hangs it up, he will dig more deeply into his unique career.

A high-spirited yet surface-level glimpse into the life of one of the planet’s last rock stars.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307609-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

THE DEFENSE LAWYER

THE BARRY SLOTNICK STORY

The Patterson publishing machine clanks its way into the nonfiction aisles in this lumbering courtroom drama.

Barry Slotnick made a considerable fortune and reputation as a defense attorney who had a long list of controversial clients, including mob boss John Gotti and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. An “urbane lawyer known for his twenty-five-hundred-dollar Fioravanti suits, he was not unacquainted with violence,” write Patterson and Wallace. One of his early cases, indeed, involved a group of Jewish Defense League members who allegedly blew up a Broadway producer’s office, killing a woman who worked there. Slotnick’s defense was a standard confuse-the-jury ploy, but it worked. He put similar tactics to work in his defense of Bernhard Goetz, the “subway shooter” whose trial made international news. The authors open after that trial had concluded in yet another Slotnick win, and with a sensational incident: He was attacked by a masked man who beat him with a baseball bat. The evidence is sketchy, but it seems to place the attack in the hands of organized crime—perhaps even Gotti himself. No matter: Slotnick, “who saw himself as the foe of the all-powerful government” and “liberty’s last champion,” was soon back to representing clients including Radovan Karadžić, the murderous Bosnian Serb who was eventually imprisoned for having committed genocide; Dewi Sukarno, the widow of Indonesia’s similarly bloodstained president, “arrested for slashing the face of a fellow socialite with a broken champagne glass at a party in Aspen”; and Melania Trump, who had chosen Slotnick “to handle her prenup.” In the hands of a John Grisham, the story might have come to life, but while Patterson does a serviceable if cliché-ridden job of recounting Slotnick’s career, he fails to give readers much reason to admire the man.

For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49437-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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