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A simplistic attempt at hope in troubled times.

Another helping of pop philosophy from the prolific writer.

“Here we are, older, scared, numb on some days, enraged on others, with even less trust than we had a year ago,” Lamott writes of such challenges as the pandemic and threats to American democracy and to the planet in general. “Where on earth do we start to get our world and joy and hope and our faith in life itself back?” In these short essays, similar in style and tone as Almost Everything, Hallelujah Anyway, Small Victories, and the author’s other works of nonfiction, she ventures some answers. Mixed in with details of her personal life, including her first marriage (at age 65) to a man who, unlike her, is not a Christian; her struggles with alcoholism; and the Sunday school classes she teaches near her California home, the book addresses such topics as forgiveness, repentance, climate change, and more. Though the book will appeal to her longtime fans, the essays are marred by observations that are trite or just plain obvious. For example: “Maturity is retaining a modicum of grace when you do not get your own way”; “Growing up is hard”; “You make the plan but you don’t plan the result.” Other statements will be open to debate—e.g., “Darkness can be so soothing when you know it won’t last forever”; “Love is being with a person wherever they are, however they are acting.” It says something about this book that its best line is a misquote of Kurt Vonnegut, who, in a 1994 Syracuse University commencement speech, said he told his grandchildren (Lamott says it was his children) when they complained about the state of the planet, “Don’t look at me, I just got here myself.” For Lamott devotees, file alongside the aforementioned books; others can take a pass.

A simplistic attempt at hope in troubled times.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18969-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A marvelously tender memoir on suicide and loss.

An essayist and novelist turns her attention to the heartache of a friend’s suicide.

Crosley’s memoir is not only a joy to read, but also a respectful and philosophical work about a colleague’s recent suicide. “All burglaries are alike, but every burglary is uninsured in its own way,” she begins, in reference to the thief who stole the jewelry from her New York apartment in 2019. Among the stolen items was her grandmother’s “green dome cocktail ring with tiers of tourmaline (think kryptonite, think dish soap).” She wrote those words two months after the burglary and “one month since the violent death of my dearest friend.” That friend was Russell Perreault, referred to only by his first name, her boss when she was a publicist at Vintage Books. Russell, who loved “cheap trinkets” from flea markets, had “the timeless charm of a movie star, the competitive edge of a Spartan,” and—one of many marvelous details—a “thatch of salt-and-pepper hair, seemingly scalped from the roof of an English country house.” Over the years, the two became more than boss and subordinate, teasing one another at work, sharing dinners, enjoying “idyllic scenes” at his Connecticut country home, “a modest farmhouse with peeling paint and fragile plumbing…the house that Windex forgot.” It was in the barn at that house that Russell took his own life. Despite the obvious difference in the severity of robbery and suicide, Crosley fashions a sharp narrative that finds commonality in the dislocation brought on by these events. The book is no hagiography—she notes harassment complaints against Russell for thoughtlessly tossed-off comments, plus critiques of the “deeply antiquated and often backward” publishing industry—but the result is a warm remembrance sure to resonate with anyone who has experienced loss.

A marvelously tender memoir on suicide and loss.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2024

ISBN: 9780374609849

Page Count: 208

Publisher: MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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A sweet final word from an actor who leaves a legacy of compassion and kindness.

The late actor offers a gentle guide for living with more purpose, love, and joy.

Mixing poetry, prescriptive challenges, and elements of memoir, Heche (1969-2022) delivers a narrative that is more encouraging workbook than life story. The author wants to share what she has discovered over the course of a life filled with abuse, advocacy, and uncanny turning points. Her greatest discovery? Love. “Open yourself up to love and transform kindness from a feeling you extend to those around you to actions that you perform for them,” she writes. “Only by caring can we open ourselves up to the universe, and only by opening up to the universe can we fully experience all the wonders that it holds, the greatest of which is love.” Throughout the occasionally overwrought text, Heche is heavy on the concept of care. She wants us to experience joy as she does, and she provides a road map for how to get there. Instead of slinking away from Hollywood and the ridicule that she endured there, Heche found the good and hung on, with Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford starring as particularly shining knights in her story. Some readers may dismiss this material as vapid Hollywood stuff, but Heche’s perspective is an empathetic blend of Buddhism (minimize suffering), dialectical behavioral therapy (tolerating distress), Christianity (do unto others), and pre-Socratic philosophy (sufficient reason). “You’re not out to change the whole world, but to increase the levels of love and kindness in the world, drop by drop,” she writes. “Over time, these actions wear away the coldness, hate, and indifference around us as surely as water slowly wearing away stone.” Readers grieving her loss will take solace knowing that she lived her love-filled life on her own terms. Heche’s business and podcast partner, Heather Duffy, writes the epilogue, closing the book on a life well lived.

A sweet final word from an actor who leaves a legacy of compassion and kindness.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781627783316

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Viva Editions

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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