Sharply observant, contemplative writing that captures the buzz of hitchhiking.

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NOBODY HITCHHIKES ANYMORE

A former journalist sets out to reexperience the hitchhiking adventures of his past in this absorbing travel memoir.

In 1978, Griffin-Nolan, accompanied by his childhood friend Joe, hitchhiked from New York to San Francisco and back. Since it was one of the “finest educational and recreational experiences” he’d experienced, he decided, 40 years later, to do it again. Joe, among others, tried to convince him to abandon the idea, arguing that hitchhiking was no longer safe. In 2018, the author set out alone from his home near Syracuse, New York. Progress was uncertain at first; a deputy sheriff stopped him and said that hitchhiking is illegal in New York. But the author soon began to pick his way west, fueled by the benevolence of drivers who responded to his cardboard sign: “#NobodyHitchhikesAnymore.” The trip takes in the thousands of wind turbines of the Midwest, Salt Lake City, and the Rockies before culminating as the author approaches San Francisco. Along the way, Griffin-Nolan ponders the ways the road and those he met on it have changed since the late ’70s. Griffin-Nolan’s writing crackles with an energy for adventure: “The only way to convert today’s uncertainty into tomorrow’s story is to get out there and live it.” His writing style is almost photographic, offering keenly observed snapshots of the lives of others. In a Peoria Greyhound station populated by the city’s addicts, he witnesses a woman trying to calm a “troubled mother-to-be”: “Into an audio landscape layered with rumbling moans of withdrawal and a chain of psychotic call-and-response dialogues, this serene lady whispers enchantments.” The memoir’s tight focus on individuals means that the sweeping vistas of America’s landscapes are sometimes overlooked, but this does not detract from an intelligently written memoir that documents how America is changing: “The disappearance of hitchhiking and the rise of the gated community seem part of the same thing. Fear leads to isolation leads to more fear.” Griffin-Nolan is acutely aware of America’s current troubles, focusing particularly on “evidence of empowered and emboldened racism.” Yet his unswerving faith in the kindness of strangers is uplifting, and his intrepid spirit will encourage others to take to the road.

Sharply observant, contemplative writing that captures the buzz of hitchhiking.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-57869-038-1

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Rootstock Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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