For years, Matthew McConaughey had been keeping journals filled with stories of his career and tidbits of advice written down over his years of experience. Earlier this year, he decided to gather up those journals, travel to a remote cabin and try and put them together into some sort of pseudo-memoir/self-help book.
I’ll say this – McConaughey is a born storyteller. I listened to this one because come on… if you’re going to experience this book, you might as well listen to the man tell his own story in his own unique voice and cadence. I’m glad I did. To be honest, I cannot imagine reading this myself as McConaughey’s performance is excellent and helps lift the book onto another level. There were definitely moments here that would likely not have gotten as big laughs out of me had I just read them.
The best part of this book are the stories. Now, not all of them are great – some of them are unremarkable, like his childhood and adolescent rebellion as well as his parents odd but functional relationship. Not taking anything away from Matthew’s experiences, but his dad almost felt like a caricature of a southern father. Many of these stories didn’t blow me away. However, once Matthew gets to his post-high school years and his early years as a fledgling actor, things really pick up. His year in Australia is a highlight for sure (yes, he does an Aussie accent). Getting the lead in A Time to Kill was inspiring as was his preparation for the role of Denton Van Zan in Reign of Fire. The most interesting stories however, fall within the period of his career where he had to forgo millions and nearly two years of work to redefine his image and leave behind the rom-com films to transition into dramatic roles.
The other big part of this book are the tidbits of advice. The “bumper stickers” of philosophical sayings and inane advice. Parts where Matthew yells out “note to self!” and then follows with some obvious thing he learned during a random experience. These sections just didn’t do it for me. They came across as very try-hard and at times created such cringe that I wanted to fast forward. But, you know, this is what people love McConaughey for, right? So, maybe it’s just not for me.
I’m not one to read many celebrity memoirs (unless you want to count professional wrestlers or hockey players as celebrities), but when I do, I go the audiobook route. If you have any interest in this one, do yourself a favor and download the audiobook. Just maybe ignore the silly book cover.