A raw, bold, unsparing memoir.

SEA STATE

A MEMOIR

An English ex-journalist’s account of how sex and class intertwined in an interview project that plunged her into the hostile world of the offshore oil industry.

When Lasley traveled to Aberdeen from London, she had one goal: to write about life on oil rigs and “see what men [were] like with no women around.” Her motivations were complex. She lost a book she was writing on oil rigs when her laptop was stolen from an apartment she shared with an abusive man she had tried to leave two times before. Her first interview subject was Caden, a married offshore oil rigger Lasley met as soon as she arrived. The attraction was immediate and powerful, and the two began an affair as the author started her research. The process of oil extraction, writes Lasley, involves a “pitched battle among human ingenuity, inhospitable terrain and highly combustible materials. The dangers are compounded by the locations’ remoteness.” Disasters, such as the Piper Alpha explosion in the North Sea in 1988, left many men traumatized. Yet working-class men continued to seek work on oil rigs because the onshore heavy-industry jobs on which they could count had all but disappeared. As Lasley discovered in her brief affair with Caden, offshore work culture created “antifemale paranoia” toward “women who ‘trapped’ them with pregnancy, spirited children away over borders…[and] pauperized them in divorce settlements.” Unlike the middle-class and educated author, other women on shore did not have the independent means to start their lives anew. Onshore jobs were as scarce for them as they were for men, and few women were willing to work on the rigs. In poetically hard-edged prose, Lasley explores offshore rigging culture and the anti–workers’ rights culture that created it. She also shows how the hypermuscular capitalism in which it is entrenched deforms, and often destroys, relationships.

A raw, bold, unsparing memoir.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-303083-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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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