Book of the week: Matthew McConaughey’s memoir shares his life experiences

Brendan Samson, Associate Podcast Producer

The last book I read was in my high school English class, and to find the last book I read for pleasure you would have to go back a few years before that. But when Matthew McConaughey writes a memoir, you have to give it the green light.

Released in October 2020, McConaughey’s memoir “Greenlights” is the product of 52 days spent with no electricity and no distractions writing in the desert. He combined 36 years’ worth of journals and diaries into one book focusing on the idea of catching greenlights.

As he describes it, catching greenlights is something that sets you up for success in life. In his book, he explains his red and yellow lights and how they all become green eventually.

Amanda Rhia

It did not take much convincing for me to sink my teeth into stories about McConaughey’s life. I try to consume every type of McConaughey-related media from magazine articles to YouTube videos, so a book written by him was only a skip and a jump away.

For those who do not obsess about the 51-year-old Oscar winner, McConaughey kicked off an extensive virtual book tour, informing everyone about his new project. The tour spanned for months and McConaughey stopped by what seemed like every talk show in the country promoting the book.

Now the reason I lay out the book tour, his story and my obsession, is to make it clear just how high my hopes were for this autobiography.

I had plenty of expectations about what I wanted it to be and it not only met my expectations, but it surpassed them and then some.

McConaughey is not just some actor fumbling over his words as he discusses his time in the limelight. Instead, he is an eloquent writer who spends most of his time transporting

the reader into experiences from his childhood and beyond. The book takes you from his early years as the youngest child in a blue-collar Texas family to his journey in acting. He talks about his first movie, “Dazed and Confused,” and how acting, which was a summertime hobby at first, turned into a career.
He does not just focus on his time in the spotlight; a majority of the memoir focuses on the stories that made him who he is today. Whether they are from his family, or his time traveling to acting gigs alone, they are all captivating.

The best part about the memoir is the way it is written.

As I mentioned earlier, McConaughey isolated himself in the desert with nothing but his journals when writing “Greenlights,” which means the product is written completely by the source.

Many celebrities who write memoirs have the assistance of a co-writer, someone who can take their thoughts and experiences and make them legible. In McConaughey’s case, he wrote the entire memoir alone and this is evident in his writing.

He writes how he speaks.

The book is riddled with entertaining stories that left me constantly asking, “is he the most interesting person on the planet?” I think the answer is yes.

This is shown in his travels after college. After having a dream where he is floating on the Amazon River in complete peace, he did what any young man trying to make it in Hollywood would do, he went to South America.

There, he put his career on hold to “find his frequency” and reset, ultimately gaining perspective on his life thus far.

Following his dreams and floating shirtless down the Amazon River is just a small taste of the impulsive travels McConaughey has embarked on. He toured the world in a van, an Airstream trailer and a car in his journey outlined in “Greenlights” and his unique perspective on life.