Though fans may be dismayed at the brevity of the book, there’s more here than meets the eye.

HELP, THANKS, WOW

THE THREE ESSENTIAL PRAYERS

A refreshingly simple approach to spiritual practice in a pint-sized reflection on prayer.

As the title of her book implies, Lamott (Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son, 2012, etc.) has taken an enormously complex and often debated topic and boiled it down to three basic elements that transcend doctrine or creed. Though in her previous books the author has been forthright about her Christianity, here she begins with a prelude that assures readers she’s not even remotely interested in trying to tell them who or what God is; she’s simply asking them to consider that there’s a Divine Being willing to run the show. How is one to get that process going? Prayer. More specifically, Lamott touts the spiritual power in powerlessness, gratitude and wonder. The three sections of the book aren’t solely about each one-word prayer; they’re more a running conversation about their collective influence in her life. “Help” is a complete prayer, writes Lamott, and uttering it creates space for solutions that humans have neither thought of nor could pull off on their own. In what at first may seem like a jumbled mashup of stories and reflections, Lamott manages to deftly convey the idea that in trying to control things, we’ve largely lost our ability to see the good and the miraculous in everyday life. And those commodities go a long way, she writes, in terms of making a Divine connection that brings a measure of hope and peace.

Though fans may be dismayed at the brevity of the book, there’s more here than meets the eye.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59463-129-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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