Yet more compelling work from a unique mind.

MAYBE IT’S ME

ON BEING THE WRONG KIND OF WOMAN

A master of the long-form personal essay discourses on a variety of subjects.

Novelist, physicist, and writing professor Pollack serves up 16 essays, some previously published in Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, New England Review, and other literary journals, digging deep into memoir material and other topics of interest to her. Among others, these include whether the shah of Iran could possibly be Jewish, as a friend of her family claimed, and a critical dissection of an antiquated sex education book she was given as a child. “The hideous black-and-white diagram of 'the mother's reproductive system' resembled a disapproving, big-nosed secretary in hideous cat's eye glasses, while the map of 'the father's reproductive system' reminded me of an evil alien with testicles for eyes and a penis and foreskin for the nose," she writes. The author’s candor, curiosity, humor, and gift for phrasemaking are engaging regardless of the topic, many of which are misfortunes of varying severity. Pollack’s childhood was largely unhappy, as she was singled out in school for both her intelligence and her orneriness, but many of her classmates, it turns out, suffered much worse. Later in life, she was “peed on, shot at, and kidnapped”—all in one summer. After her marriage, which produced her lovely son ("I Tried To Raise a Jew and He Turned Out a Communist"), she had little luck with men. There was the "Righteous Gentile”—"When I told my mother I was dating a Polish Catholic, the abyss that opened in our conversation was so deep and dark I could see three generations of our family tumble into it"—followed by a slew of lesser men, documented in the title essay, aptly subtitled "The One Woman Show I'll Never Perform in Public." Why not? At almost 30 pages, it's ripe for a comedy special.

Yet more compelling work from a unique mind.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-953002-07-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delphinium

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

THE DEFENSE LAWYER

THE BARRY SLOTNICK STORY

The Patterson publishing machine clanks its way into the nonfiction aisles in this lumbering courtroom drama.

Barry Slotnick made a considerable fortune and reputation as a defense attorney who had a long list of controversial clients, including mob boss John Gotti and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. An “urbane lawyer known for his twenty-five-hundred-dollar Fioravanti suits, he was not unacquainted with violence,” write Patterson and Wallace. One of his early cases, indeed, involved a group of Jewish Defense League members who allegedly blew up a Broadway producer’s office, killing a woman who worked there. Slotnick’s defense was a standard confuse-the-jury ploy, but it worked. He put similar tactics to work in his defense of Bernhard Goetz, the “subway shooter” whose trial made international news. The authors open after that trial had concluded in yet another Slotnick win, and with a sensational incident: He was attacked by a masked man who beat him with a baseball bat. The evidence is sketchy, but it seems to place the attack in the hands of organized crime—perhaps even Gotti himself. No matter: Slotnick, “who saw himself as the foe of the all-powerful government” and “liberty’s last champion,” was soon back to representing clients including Radovan Karadžić, the murderous Bosnian Serb who was eventually imprisoned for having committed genocide; Dewi Sukarno, the widow of Indonesia’s similarly bloodstained president, “arrested for slashing the face of a fellow socialite with a broken champagne glass at a party in Aspen”; and Melania Trump, who had chosen Slotnick “to handle her prenup.” In the hands of a John Grisham, the story might have come to life, but while Patterson does a serviceable if cliché-ridden job of recounting Slotnick’s career, he fails to give readers much reason to admire the man.

For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49437-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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