Not just a compelling personal memoir, this book holds lessons for all of us.

AS A WOMAN

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT POWER, SEX, AND THE PATRIARCHY AFTER I TRANSITIONED

A transgender woman chronicles her difficult journey from "alpha male" and evangelical leader to life in the body that feels most natural to her.

Paula was born Paul in West Virginia, raised to follow in the footsteps of an evangelical pastor father. Paul went to Bible college and became a pastor, "guaranteeing a life of cognitive dissonance." Though he "did not dislike being a boy…from as early as I can remember, in my heart I longed to be a girl." He married and was ordained into the Christian ministry, raising three children. Then, by transitioning from Paul to Paula, Williams "exploded the family narrative and shocked a whole denomination." After transition, she lost employment, lots of money, most friends, and the privilege routinely accorded White men. Today, the author is a pastor and pastoral counselor in Boulder County, Colorado, as well as an activist for gender and LGBTQ+ equity. She has broken free from evangelism to "embrace a more generous expression of the Christian faith,” and consequently, the fundamentalist church has rejected her. Nonetheless, the author continues to describe her journey in religious terms, seeing her transition and life experience as a "sacred and holy adventure." As she notes, “healthy spirituality can be a solution to the damage done by bad religion.” However, the author has also discovered that living as a strong female is not as easy as living as an alpha male, as many of the same traits (confidence, decisiveness) are perceived differently according to gender. More often than not, men are judged by their content, women by their looks. Delivering lectures, progressive sermons, and TED Talks, Williams describes "the surprises of living as a woman, and particularly the shock of losing my male privilege.” After her own transition, Williams calls for even broader societal change around gender and sexuality.

Not just a compelling personal memoir, this book holds lessons for all of us.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982153-34-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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