Delicate prose distinguishes a narrative of tragedy and grief.

MEMORIAL DRIVE

A DAUGHTER'S MEMOIR

Reprising years that she tried to forget, a daughter unearths pain and trauma.

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Trethewey, winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and many other awards, begins her graceful, moving memoir with her mother’s murder in 1985. Her mother was 41; Trethewey, 19. In an effort to discover “the hidden, covered over, nearly erased,” the author returned to the scene of the crime and her own buried memories. “I need now,” she writes, “to make sense of our history, to understand the tragic course upon which my mother’s life was set and the way my own life has been shaped by that legacy.” Trethewey spent her early childhood in Mississippi, where she felt “protected, insulated from racial intimidation and violence.” Her black mother, Gwendolyn Turnbough, was a Head Start administrator; her white father was rarely home, either working or pursuing a graduate degree in New Orleans. By the time 6-year-old Trethewey and her mother moved to Atlanta, the couple had divorced. The move, writes the author, “ended the world of my happy early childhood,” and soon her comforting sense of “the two-ness” between mother and daughter was broken when Turnbough’s new boyfriend, Joel, moved in. When her mother was at work, he found ways to torment Trethewey. “Always,” she reveals, “there was some small thing he’d accuse me of, some transgression he invented in order to punish me.” He beat her mother, and Trethewey could hear her pleading at night; her face would be swollen and bruised in the morning. Trethewey was in high school when her mother finally divorced Joel, and at last “everything felt normal.” But in February 1984, he tried to kill Turnbough. He was arrested and imprisoned, but after his release, he threatened her again, and this time succeeded.

Delicate prose distinguishes a narrative of tragedy and grief.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-224857-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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