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We could go through a checklist of every story you’ll encounter in Matthew McConaughey’s “Greenlights,” a whirlwind read that crackles and hums with electric storytelling and personal philosophy, and it still wouldn’t give the book away.
That’d just be the meat of the book, and its real charms are in the sauce, the way the Uvalde native can spin a tale and draw you into his world painted with aphorisms, witticisms and McConaugh-ese.
But here’s a taste of what to expect:
• The book opens with a fiery and shocking story of Jim and Kay McConaughey hollering and fighting and eventually ending up on the floor in an intimate act. The author, who recounts witnessing the pre-coital half of the tussle, was 4 years old.
• Jim McConaughey died five days into his son’s shoot on “Dazed and Confused.” According to Matthew, the elder McConaughey passed onto the next realm in a manner Jim predicted: directly after having sex with his wife.
• Speaking of nudity: After being arrested for playing bongos and smoking weed at his Tarrytown house in 1999, McConaughey refused to put on clothes and demanded he be taken to jail in his birthday suit as proof that he was minding his own business.
• A teenage McConaughey spent a disorienting year after high school living abroad as an exchange student with a family in Gorokan, Australia. McConaughey paints a cinematic tale of his first foray into loneliness and introspection, a time that changed his life forever, he says, and led to some of the journal entries in the book.
• While distractedly thumbing through a pile of magazines at the Delta Tau Delta house at the University of Texas, the self-described “natural marketeer” stumbled across a paperback copy of Og Mandino’s “The Greatest Salesman in the World.” The lessons he learned from the book about the philosophy of salesmanship and the way he consumed it would serve as building blocks for the rest of his life.
• McConaughey worked as a waiter at downtown Austin blues bar Catfish Junction and to this day is still friends with the founder, Homer Hill.
• The “Time to Kill” star once turned on the television early in his rise to fame to see his mother showing off his childhood home on “Inside Edition.” Feeling betrayed by his mother, he established boundaries that led to an eight-year estrangement. They reconciled, and she is now a regular presence in the family’s life, often popping up on red carpets and on Camila Alves McConaughey’s Instagram feed.
• McConaughey had a series of dreams (the kind usually described as sexual dreams) that led him to travel to Brazil and Africa, instructive periods of his life that allowed him to turn inward.
• In an attempt to reverse hair loss, the actor shaved his head at the height of his rom-com celebrity (peep 2002’s “Reign of Fire” for evidence), drawing the ire of a major studio head. You can try and piece together who it was.
• This is not a kiss-and-tell book, but the reader does get a sense that the extended period McConaughey spent living at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, where he opened a six-figure running tab, is the stuff of which many young men’s dreams are made.
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Matthew McConaughey at the Texas Book Festival
Who: Matthew McConaughey will appear in conversation with actor/filmmaker/fellow Texan Ethan Hawke at the virtual Texas Book Festival
When: 4 pm. Nov. 7
Tickets: $41 tax-deductible donation to the Texas Book Festival includes a copy of “Greenlights”