THE SURVIVAL OF THE RICHEST

AN ANALYSIS OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SCIENCES OF BIOLOGY, ECONOMICS, FINANCE, AND SURVIVALISM

A clearly written but uneven work about human survival.

An analysis argues that the science of finance provides the key to humanity’s continued survival.

Criniti contends that “money has become an essential survival tool for everyone in our globalized civilization.” In that case, it becomes an absolute imperative to master finance—“the science of management of wealth”—since it is prosperity that most effectively draws people safely back from the “edge of survival.” The author expounds on this insight in biological terms—specifically Darwinian evolutionary theory—by arguing that humans have evolved in such a way that technological progress and wealth are now the key features of their fitness. These governable variables demonstrate that evolution, at least for humans, has itself evolved. Criniti describes the demands of the future in idiosyncratic terms: “Robotic forms and other technology are slowly filling this planet through the use of money. You need money to purchase the robotic parts for a cyborg, and you need money to make an android. If the nonliving come alive one day, then they may also need money to survive. The survival of the richest would then continue.” The author’s approach is a comprehensive one—for example, he devotes a large amount of time to defining life, death, and survival, though the book could have taken notions such as these for granted. At one point, while discussing survival in the wilderness, he defines wilderness. He even discusses at length the thorny issue of “why we should want to survive.”

Criniti’s prose is unfailingly lucid and offers some rich and informative details along the way. But he would have been better off deferring to convention, since some of his definitions can be counterintuitive. For example, he includes “thinking” as a criterion of life and simply stretches what counts as thinking beyond all reason: “All living things (such as bacteria, fungi, or plants) must make big decisions at some point in their life cycles.” The author’s overall strategy is to replace rigorous arguments with peremptory definitions and assertions. For example, he claims “everything must subordinate to the goal of survival,” a philosophically dubious statement, and encourages readers who disagree to discontinue perusing the book. In addition, he claims his work “may also serve as a direct learning tool to help you create your own path to economic and financial independence,” but he provides no specific or actionable counsel. Overall, Criniti’s book is a collection of thoughts leading up to a few sweeping and arguable main points. He dramatically promises to disclose uncomfortable truths about human nature, but that warning will strike many readers as a bit histrionic: “If you do not have the stomach to read about the horrors of survival or the truth about the current human predicament, then I suggest that you do not read this book. The conclusions are not easy to accept, and acceptance may only come after breaking down the inner walls of safety that our minds put up to protect us.”

A clearly written but uneven work about human survival.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9884595-4-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2020

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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CALYPSO

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

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In which the veteran humorist enters middle age with fine snark but some trepidation as well.

Mortality is weighing on Sedaris (Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, 2017, etc.), much of it his own, professional narcissist that he is. Watching an elderly man have a bowel accident on a plane, he dreaded the day when he would be the target of teenagers’ jokes “as they raise their phones to take my picture from behind.” A skin tumor troubled him, but so did the doctor who told him he couldn’t keep it once it was removed. “But it’s my tumor,” he insisted. “I made it.” (Eventually, he found a semitrained doctor to remove and give him the lipoma, which he proceeded to feed to a turtle.) The deaths of others are much on the author’s mind as well: He contemplates the suicide of his sister Tiffany, his alcoholic mother’s death, and his cantankerous father’s erratic behavior. His contemplation of his mother’s drinking—and his family’s denial of it—makes for some of the most poignant writing in the book: The sound of her putting ice in a rocks glass increasingly sounded “like a trigger being cocked.” Despite the gloom, however, frivolity still abides in the Sedaris clan. His summer home on the Carolina coast, which he dubbed the Sea Section, overspills with irreverent bantering between him and his siblings as his long-suffering partner, Hugh, looks on. Sedaris hasn’t lost his capacity for bemused observations of the people he encounters. For example, cashiers who say “have a blessed day” make him feel “like you’ve been sprayed against your will with God cologne.” But bad news has sharpened the author’s humor, and this book is defined by a persistent, engaging bafflement over how seriously or unseriously to take life when it’s increasingly filled with Trump and funerals.

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39238-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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