A fond look back at a once-great basketball franchise that, now hapless, fans have “longed for…ever since.”

BLOOD IN THE GARDEN

THE FLAGRANT HISTORY OF THE 1990S NEW YORK KNICKS

An account of the 1990s-era New York Knicks, who left a trail of mayhem in their wake.

It was a flash in the historical pan, but a memorable one, the confluence of a take-no-prisoners coach, Pat Riley, with a squad of talented, hard-nosed players that included Patrick Ewing, Anthony Mason, John Starks, Latrell Sprewell, and others. It helped matters, notes Sports Illustrated senior writer Herring, that as the Knicks were coming together, archnemesis Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls had decided to retire—at least to play baseball. The Knicks were lean, mean, and ready to brawl if necessary. In the memorable opening section, Herring recounts how Riley, 20 minutes into his five-year stint as coach, had to break up a fight between Mason and forward Xavier McDonald in a team practice. “Mason was nothing if not enigmatic,” the author writes later; he was hard to pin down but also hard to beat. There are some wonderful set pieces, including a 1994 NBA Finals game that no one, commentator Bob Costas included, paid much attention to, given that O.J. Simpson was then barreling down a Los Angeles highway, the police in close pursuit. But the author is at his best with on-the-court, you-are-there accounts of the game in action and its players, including Starks, who “had been the Knicks’ most reliable option, hitting 49 percent of his shots—and 45 percent of his threes—averaging a team-best 21 points and seven assists per contest.” Still, as Herring knows, all the stars in the world won’t make a real team, and throughout the decade of the 1990s, the Knicks came together, as in 1999, when “they displayed heart and resolve, showing they could sidestep distractions to sneak into the playoffs with their beloved coach’s back against the wall.”

A fond look back at a once-great basketball franchise that, now hapless, fans have “longed for…ever since.”

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982132-11-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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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 virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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