Not sufficiently expansive or introspective to engage a wide audience.

RAW

MY JOURNEY FROM ANXIETY TO JOY

A detailed memoir that addresses diet, therapy, and spirituality.

Carter (Secrets of My Sex, 2008) begins her account in 2003 in a gastroenterologist’s office. At the time, she was 43 and had endured chronic stomach pain for years. She worried she might have cancer but refused invasive procedures and instead embarked on a raw food diet. The first third of her book, “Body,” details the challenges of this transition—including finding social acceptance for a diet that seemed extreme to many people, including her parents. Raw food helped Carter in some ways, but she remained unsatisfied; she yearned to be a writer and bemoaned her failure to be financially independent. Carter returned to dance, which she’d once studied at Juilliard, and explored Bikram yoga and energy-healing concepts. But she realized that her mind—particularly her anxieties—needed attention. In the second section, “Mind,” Carter tells of entering a spiritual psychology program at the University of Santa Monica, devising a course in transformational creative practices for alma mater Scripps College, and becoming a life and writing coach. She also published a poetry book in 2007. Still, her fears and self-doubt remained. The final third, “Spirit,” focuses on spiritual healing. After her mother’s death, Carter’s anxiety became “disabling,” she says, but after exploring reiki, craniosacral therapy, breath work, shamanic training, meditation, holistic psychiatry, and conventional medicine, she learned self-acceptance. Carter’s decade-spanning quest covers countless forms of therapy and self-help. Her relentless unease is palpable throughout, deftly portrayed through effective dialogue and memorable recollections. But it’s never quite clear what was specifically wrong with her—and therefore, what her book is truly about. She admits at one point that the book started as a memoir about raw food but gravitated far beyond that topic. The title would suggest a focus on her anxiety, but she never delves fully into that subject, either. She returns to the theme of her writing practice often, but her book isn’t about becoming a writer. As a result, readers may find themselves roaming through the book in search of its purpose.

Not sufficiently expansive or introspective to engage a wide audience.

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63152-345-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2018

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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 author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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