A compassionate and highly readable overview of therapeutic approaches to stuttering.

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THE STUTTER STEPS

PROVEN PATHWAYS TO SPEAKING CONFIDENTLY AND LIVING COURAGEOUSLY

A comprehensive plan for dealing with a stutter.

“Everyone who stutters,” writes debut author and consultant Flaum early on in this book, “has similar stories of those awful experiences that made us realize we were ‘different’ and easily teased and mocked.” The broader personal and psychological circumstances surrounding stammering, the author contends, can often be just as important as the difficulty itself. As Dr. Heather Grossman, one expert, comments in the book, “the core problem of stuttering is actually made up of all the things that person does in order not to stutter.” These “avoidance tactics” include passing up social gatherings, relying only on texting rather than talking on the phone, and replacing a difficult-to-say word with an easier one even when the difficult word is the one you really want. However, people who’ve dealt with stuttering can attest that such tactics don’t always work. Flaum examines an array of alternatives, including a counterintuitive approach of intentionally stuttering a bit, which can help one relax; some people, he says, “feel stuttering on purpose for their first few words helps them feel more in control of their speech. It also helps reduce their fear of stuttering involuntarily, so they see no reason to hide it.” Another method, he writes, is so-called “easy stuttering,” in which one tries to “catch” the moment when a stutter occurs and draw it out it slightly—again, in order to relax and feel a sense of control. The author describes these and other approaches in detail over the course of this work.

Flaum, who has firsthand knowledge of stuttering, includes commentary from an array of other experts, including language pathologists and speech therapists, in order to provide his narrative with additional professional heft. He draws on his own considerable experience to smoothly contextualize the information for those readers who may be unfamiliar with the challenges of speech difficulties. He also makes a wise decision to include ample testimony from people who struggle with stuttering themselves, as his most likely audience is made up of these people and those who love and support them. These sections have the effect of personalizing the experience of speech difficulties and clarifying their larger psychological effects: “Keep in mind, this is not about recovery from stuttering,” one such testimonial asserts. “We are recovering from shame.” These personal insights from lived experience effectively bring the book to life, and their quality is matched by the range of Flaum's advice and the humanity of his own prose. He addresses some of the everyday obstacles that people dealing with stutters face, such as unfamiliar surroundings and the physical stress of anxiety, as he assesses various approaches to speech therapy; for each of these strategies, Flaum lays out the facts in a clear and upfront manner, assessing each type of therapy for strengths and weaknesses in a way that readers are sure to find valuable. Overall, Flaum delivers an encouraging guide that will make his target readership feel accepted and heard.

A compassionate and highly readable overview of therapeutic approaches to stuttering.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64293-653-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Post Hill Press

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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 refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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