Tag Archives: Grand Central Publishing

Review: Brat – An 80’s Story

Brat: An 80's Story

Brat: An 80’s Story
By Andrew McCarthy
Grand Central Publishing, 9781538754276, May 11, 2021, 240pp.

The Short of It:

This is probably the first time I’ve ever found myself completely enamored by a memoir.

The Rest of It:

Most people know who he is. Andrew McCarthy did many films, perhaps not all of them successful but films like Pretty in Pink, Mannequin, St. Elmo’s Fire and Weekend at Bernie’s were surprisingly successful and seemed to make him a household name. My favorite film Less Than Zero, is oddly enough, not McCarthy’s favorite by far. From the title, you would think that much of this book is about the 80’s and yes, there’s plenty of that decade covered in this book but it’s more about how the term “brat pack” made and broke, what was a very vulnerable kid just trying to find himself.

The push-pull nature of McCarthy’s story is so readable. He was given some breaks but never felt that he belonged. His insecurity about who he was or who he was being asked to portray, caused him a great deal of nervousness and anxiety. He would often self-sabotage himself by consuming too much drink, and later drugs. The substance abuse only masking his insecurities for the moment.

Anyone who has ever doubted themselves can relate to his story. There’s a raw, vulnerability here which I always felt came through his characters too. This is not a story about Hollywood and all of its glitz and glam and it’s not about what we all perceived to be wild success. This is a story about a young man struggling to find a place for himself in the world.

What I really loved about this book is that it so delicately balances what we expect from him, and what he needed to share with readers. He includes plenty of information about each of his films and how they came to be. He also includes a lot on the business of acting itself, which is why I am handing this copy over to my daughter for her to read. But in addition to all of that, he tells us about his family, introduces us to the people who made an impact on him along the way, and what he’s learned from it all.

I’ve read McCarthy before and he’s quite a good writer but he really outdid himself with this one. If you ever wondered what happened to him after the 80’s, you might recall some TV shows he was in and his directorial work for the very popular Orange is the New Black series on Netflix. In my mind, he has had a very successful film career but with this book, I feel that he’s firmly planted his shoes into writing and I hope that’s the case because I would love to read more from him.

Note: This book comes out May 11th so pre-order it now!

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower
By Octavia E. Butler
Grand Central Publishing, 9781538732182, (1993) 2019, 368pp.

The Short of It:

The California that Butler writes about in this 1993 novel is in essence where California is headed towards today.

The Rest of It:

The story takes place in the early 2020’s. Much of California is a wasteland, depleted of resources and occupied by bands of thieves who are addicted to a drug called Pyro. This drug makes them want to burn down everything around them, including innocent people taking shelter for the night.

Lauren Olamina is only 15-years-old but has witnessed some horrible things. She, along with her family are the lucky ones. They live in a gated community with other families who support and protect one another when they can. But anytime anyone in the community leaves the protection of those gates, no one knows if they will ever make it back because it’s bad out there. A simple trip for supplies is never simple when desperate people want what you have. Even within the gates, each night they are subjected to thieves jumping the wall to pillage and destroy. Lauren, at such a young age is taught to shoot and yes, to kill. The only catch is that Lauren is a “sharer”. She suffers from an illness of empathy and can feel the pain and pleasure of others. There are few like her, but when she chooses to shoot someone she has to be sure because she could end up crippled by their pain if she doesn’t kill them outright.

Nothing lasts forever. Lauren is eventually forced to leave the safety of her community and hooks up with others also looking to survive. Her plan is to start a new community once she finds the right place. If you are familiar with the Bible at all, you will recognize the title choice for this book. The Parable of the Sower is all about planting seeds. Some take, others don’t. What survives are the plants with deep roots. In this case, trusting one another and putting your life on the line to protect someone you hardly know for the sake of community is how such a community will survive.

This was a very hard book to read during this pandemic. The pace is a little slow and the writing is the type that you must sit with for awhile. Reading about a California that has been decimated by climate change and seeing how its inhabitants deal with the lack of water and other resources was a tad depressing but also eye-opening. Butler always seems to know what’s coming and she didn’t hold back here. California is walking a fine line. We are battling drought, brush fires that force our power grids to shutdown as a preventative measure, increased poverty and homelessness. NOT to mention what the rest of the country is battling right now, the pandemic. Chilling.

Parable of the Sower is a worthwhile read. Just know that if you read it now, it might take some time to get through and might send you into a downward spiral temporarily but I enjoyed the writing quite a bit.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.