Lovely inspiration for creatives—and indeed anyone seeking to make sense out of life.

MISFITS

A PERSONAL MANIFESTO

The noted British actor, writer, and producer offers a searching, encouraging guide to finding one’s voice and vision.

At the 2021 Emmy Awards, where she was honored for I May Destroy You, Coel memorably said, “Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable. I dare you.” It wasn’t her first such exhortation. This short book encapsulates her 2018 MacTaggart Lecture before an industry audience at the Edinburgh TV Festival. The author places her success in British TV against a background of “rape, malpractice and poverty” along with a constant undercurrent of racism and sexism. Another theme is the necessity of shaping one’s own life through hard effort. Growing up in a poor immigrant household in the literal shadow of a leading London bank, she enrolled in a neighborhood theater program for low-income children—“for free. Free was cheaper than childcare, and at eight years old I was part of Bridewell Youth Theatre. The only Black person.” She took the work seriously, attending drama school and, though suffering the usual disappointments (taking the lead in Lysistrata, for instance, but in the London equivalent of an off-off Broadway theater that no agent would bother visiting), she blossomed. Finally offered a TV show, Coel met no end of small insults, but she overcame each obstacle. She accepted being one of the industry’s historically excluded “misfits” (another theme). Lately, she writes, “channels, production companies and online streaming services have found themselves scrabbling for misfits…aware they might be very profitable.” The author counsels all storytellers and creatives to be bravely transparent about their worst experiences and bitterest realities, ground from which art can grow, and to remember a sage bit of advice she once read: “There are as many perspectives as there are people.”

Lovely inspiration for creatives—and indeed anyone seeking to make sense out of life.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-84344-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Henry Holt

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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A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

MY BODY

The international model embarks on a nuanced investigation of her body and identity.

Ratajkowski’s exploration of fame, self-identity, and what it means to be a “beautiful” woman is surprisingly engaging. Originally thrust into the spotlight in 2013 due to her scantily clad appearance in the music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the author eventually became known for her stances about beauty and sexuality and how they are commodified. Now that she is a wife and mother, she writes, “I feel a tenderness toward my younger self. My defensiveness and defiance are palpable to me now. What I wrote and preached then reflected what I believed at the time, but it missed a much more complicated picture. In many ways, I have been undeniably rewarded by capitalizing on my sexuality….But in other, less overt ways, I’ve felt objectified and limited by my position in the world as a so-called sex symbol.” This short book includes the juicy tidbits that avid celebrity-memoir readers seek, and the author shares how she really felt about the video shoot and how the aftermath affected her. Beyond that, the book is a reflective coming-of-age-in-the-industry tale, a story that is never maudlin but contains a few thick, murky sections. Ratajkowski attempts to break down the construction of her identity and sexuality in relation to the ever present male gaze as well as her relationships with the women in her life. The charm of this book lies in the author’s largely relatable writing, which shows the complex emotions and confusion of a young woman experiencing her sexual development and maturation into a capable adult. Admitting that the “purpose of the book is not to arrive at answers, but honestly to explore ideas I can’t help but return to,” Ratajkowski grapples directly with a host of thorny issues.

A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-81786-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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