Essential, poignant, and insightful reading for anyone aiming to understand familial patterns of addiction.



A writer and former newspaper editor reflects on his family’s addiction issues following his son’s fatal drug overdose in this memoir.

The memoir opens in 2013, with author Magee witnessing his son William lying dead on his couch with a rolled up $20 bill still in his hand. William, who’d spent time in drug rehab, was eager to go to law school but unable to shake his addiction. During their final meeting before his death, William encouraged his father to write a book about their family’s struggles to help other families. Magee writes of being raised in a family that had its share of secrets: His parents covered up his adoption with a fake birth certificate, and his adoptive father was a closeted gay man. Magee also describes his own problems with substance abuse that began in his teens. As a father, he identified similar patterns of addiction in his offspring; his other son, Hudson, got into a life-threatening accident prompted by substance abuse. The memoir closes with the author working on building the William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing at the University of Mississippi for students with alcohol and drug problems. Magee’s prose is crisp and precise, showcasing an effortless descriptive style: “The first day of February, I peek through the blinds. It’s sunny out, and flakes swirl in the air, although the sky is all blue. Everything else is white, alien, sparkling.” Despite journalistic leanings toward brevity, his writing is never sterile; this passage, describing his bond with his son, is subtly laced with evocative imagery and complex emotion: “He wanted to look out for me. Because I’m fragile. His boy-man face grows wavery as I blink back tears.” The text can be brutal at times, but overall, this is a carefully nuanced work that explores the dark realties of substance abuse. Indeed, despite his tragic loss, Magee’s tone is frequently positive: “Our children’s struggles have changed us. We’re more aware of the suffering of others and more motivated to help them.”

Essential, poignant, and insightful reading for anyone aiming to understand familial patterns of addiction.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-953295-68-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Matt Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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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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