A slim book in which every word is important, one that deserves to be read multiple times.

THE WAR OF THE POOR

A slender, vivid history of a 16th-century populist revolt that holds relevance for current times.

In his latest, Vuillard, the winner of the 2017 Prix Goncourt for The Order of the Day, follows Thomas Münzter (c. 1489-1525), a zealous German preacher “who rejected the debates among learned theologians; esotericism made him sick. He appealed to public opinion.” Throughout this brief but powerful, moving book, the author clearly and poetically demonstrates Münzter’s passion for reform. “He is enraged,” writes Vuillard. “He wants the rulers’ skins, he wants to sweep away the church, he wants to gut all those bastards….He wants to put an end to all that pomp and miserable circumstance. Vice and wealth devastate him; their conjunction devastates him.” As the narrative progresses, the initial feeling of disjointedness morphs into a delightful thread of connection as the author pinballs around the 16th-century landscape. He chronicles the plight of the repressed serfs in Leipzig, Prague, Rome, and Avignon. Like most fanatics, Münzter could occasionally come across as a raving lunatic, leading the poor to raise the wrath of God against the godless rulers who suppressed them. The availability of the Bible in the vernacular encouraged Münzter to receive God’s direct message through visions and dreams. People flocked to hear him conduct services in German. He rejected Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine in favor of Erasmus and Raymond Lully, though he eventually dismissed all theologians. In addition to his Prague Manifesto, Münzter also wrote Protestation, which argued that “the crucial experience of humanity was suffering,” the only way that one “could receive the word of God.” Summoned to justify his work to the Elector of Saxony and the crown prince, he foretold the rise of the silent flocks who would destroy them.

A slim book in which every word is important, one that deserves to be read multiple times.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63542-008-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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 virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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