Greenlights is unlike any celebrity memoir I've ever read. The comedian memoirs, such as Tina Fey's Bossypants and Amy Poehler's Yes Please are full of self-deprecating jokes and anecdotes about growing up a woman. Those are all good things. Anna Kendrick's Scrappy Little Nobody basically tells how she went from rags to riches and how she's still star-struck by it all and most likely suffering from an ongoing imposter syndrome, while Lauren Graham's Talking as Fast as I Can details her career on Gilmore Girls and her experience writing the book in her trailer on a set. Essentially, all the books I've read cater to consumer curiosity about what it is to be a celebrity and how it all feels. McConaughey, on the other hand, doesn't just write a memoir--he writes an autobiography, from childhood up to the present.
Nezhukumatathil's collection of short essays draws comparisons between her life and creatures of the natural world such as fireflies, axolotls, and octopuses. The illustrations in this small book are what drew me to it. I read a digital copy of this book, though, so I'm not sure if I got to appreciate the full extent of the illustrations.
I expected this book to be dense or to contain lots of jargon. I assumed since it was an essay collection that all the contributors would be academics writing about the portrayal of disability in literature or film. I was pleasantly surprised, then, to find this was not the case. As the subtitle "First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century" states, the essays in this collection tell 1st-person stories from individuals with disabilities. For example, Ariel Henley writes about her experiences with beauty and art in her essay "There's a Mathematical Equation That Proves I'm Ugly--Or So I Learned in My Seventh-Grade Art Class." Henley's art teacher taught her about the subjectivity of beauty in art, and Henley movingly write about how her teacher changed her view of her own reflection.
Eve Ensler, known for The Vagina Monologues, writes about her struggles with cancer and her tentative relationship with her own body. Raised in an abusive home where she was sexually assaulted by her father, Ensler has spent much of her life separating herself from her own body. In fact, The Vagina Monologues came about largely because of Ensler's obsession with her own vagina and her desire to understand it, which led her to seek out and interview as many women as she could about their own experiences with their vaginas.
This is a powerful, vulnerable book about the harsh reality of race in America, how black men and women are inherently disadvantaged and often forced to turn to drugs or alcoholism to continue living, for however short of a time. Ward unflinchingly examines her own life and the men she has lost over the years; most importantly, she examine what their loss means to her and her community in Mississippi as well as for young Black men and women in the U.S.