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Alright, alright, alright!

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Image of the cover of the book Greenlights by author Matthew McConaughey to accompany the book review by The Reading Edit on the same page. Cover features a headshot of the author deep in thought.

Alright, alright, alright!

Greenlights isthe memoir of Academy Award winning actor, Matthew McConaughey. I listened to the audiobook of Greenlights, narrated by the man himself. I wouldn’t typically be drawn to anything by Matthew McConaughey (movie, book or otherwise), so I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed his memoir. It is candid, intelligent, insightful and highly entertaining. The truth is, I couldn’t put it down!

This isn’t a memoir of some wild Hollywood playboy or a rags to riches story. Greenlights is Matthew McConaughey’s thoughtful retelling of his most pivotal, life-affirming or life-changing stories and adventures. Along the way, he offers his bumper stickers and prescriptions for life, poems, notes to self and ‘green light’ moments. 

So what are ‘green lights’? In the words of McConaughey, green lights mean go, advance, continue. They give us what we want and don’t interfere with our direction. Sometimes green lights can be disguised as a yellow or a red light – they might present as a caution, a detour, an interruption, a death, sickness on merely a thoughtful pause. They slow us down or stop our flow, but somehow, they give us what we need. McConaughey suggests that throughout life we can identify where the yellow and red lights are and engineer our course to catch more green lights, the path of least resistance. 

This is not a conventional memoir. Nor is it an advice book. McConaughey, aged 50, describes it as an ‘approach book’. The content for his memoir is based on 35 years of journal entries, poems and prescriptions for life. 

“I haven’t made all A’s in the art of livin, but I give a damn. And I’ll take an experienced C over an ignorant A any day.”

Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey

McConaughey was studying law before he diverted to film school (green light!) and later got his first movie role in ‘Dazed and Confused‘ (1993) (green light!) where the legendary line ‘Alright, alright, alright’ was born (green light!).

His early family life in Texas and a life spent travelling the world (including a gap year in Australia as a Rotary exchange student) make up much of the book, rather than his Hollywood exploits. He readily admits that he gets more inner growth and satisfaction from his travels than his career. 

McConaughey candidly shares the green lights that lead to his most successful movies, as well as his decision to turn his back on a highly successful rom-com career. Ultimately, this red light became a green light when after nearly two years without work, declining some of the biggest and most lucrative roles in Hollywood, he ultimately landed the role of Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club (2014) for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Greenlights gave me everything I want from a memoir. I laughed, I learnt, I was inspired and I was always entertained. 

“Greenlights – here’s to catching more of them. Just keep livin”

Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey

Published 2020 by Headline, 304 pages (audiobook 6 hours, 42 minutes)