A faith memoir with a simple but endearing Everyman tenor.

HELP ME HELP YOU

One Christian’s guidebook to a stronger, more personal religious faith.

“I have had many wrestling matches with all those forms of bondage,” writes Petree in his nonfiction debut. “I chose to stay under their yoke for a long time before ultimately learning to choose Jesus and be set free,” referring to all the worldly forces like worry or envy that Petree sees as standing between Christians and purity of faith. He adds: “I hope I’m able to help you make the same wise choice.” This is the narrative ethos of the entire book; the author reflects on the challenges he’s encountered to make the walk easier for others. In a series of fast-paced chapters, Petree draws not only on his own life story and faith encounters but also on a pleasingly wide array of other voices, including spiritual leaders like Billy Graham (“One of the best ways to get rid of discouragement is to remember that Christ is coming again”). He also reflects on less conventional sources of religious inspiration, from 15-year-old high school athlete Tyler Trent, who stirred many with his professions of faith before dying of bone cancer, to an unidentified stranger Petree met on a bus while on a high school trip to Mexico years ago. On the whole, his faith-observations manage to steer clear of both the treacle of typical Christian-inspiration titles and also the reflexive science-denial of American fundamentalism. He stresses that these Christians already have all the food they need for spiritual nourishment. “The good news is that, in terms of your soul food, your sustenance is covered simply by believing in Jesus,” he writes. “The bible [sic] should always be your main course.” Through these and other invitingly simple metaphors, Petree makes an intuitive case for a revitalized faith, and although it has the weaknesses of all intuitive cases, mainly a fondness for clichés and unsubtle concepts, the book’s direct and relatable tone wins out in the end.

A faith memoir with a simple but endearing Everyman tenor.

Pub Date: March 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9736-8632-3

Page Count: 186

Publisher: WestBowPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2020

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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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A somber, sage book about art-making that deserves a readership beyond Cave’s fan base.

FAITH, HOPE AND CARNAGE

The Australian alt-rock icon talks at length about the relationship between faith, death, and art.

Like many touring musicians stalled during the pandemic, Cave pursued an autobiographical book project while in quarantine. But rather than write a standard memoir, he instead consented to a book of extensive interviews with U.K. arts journalist O’Hagan, photography critic for the Guardian and a feature writer for the Observer. Cave chose this approach in order to avoid standard rock-star patter and to address grittier, more essential matters. On that front, he has plenty of material to work with. Much of the book focuses on his 15-year-old son Arthur, who died from an accidental fall off a cliff in 2015. The loss fueled Cave’s 2019 album, Ghosteen, but Cave sees the connection between life and art as indirect, involving improvisation, uncertainty, and no small amount of thinking about religion. “The loss of my son is a condition; not a theme,” he tells O’Hagan. Loss is a constant in these conversations—during the period when they were recorded, Cave’s mother also died, as did his former band mate Anita Lane. Yet despite that, this is a lively, engrossing book energized by Cave’s relentless candor—and sometimes counterintuitive thinking—about his work and his demons. His well-documented past heroin addiction, he says, “fed into my need for a conservative and well-ordered life.” Grief, he suggests, is surprisingly clarifying: “We become different. We become better.” Throughout, he talks about the challenges and joys of songwriting and improvisation (mostly around Carnage, the 2021 album he recorded with band mate Warren Ellis during this period) and about the comfort he gets answering questions from fans and strangers on his website. O’Hagan knows Cave’s work well, but he avoids fussy discographical queries and instead pushes Cave toward philosophical elaborations, which he’s generally game for.

A somber, sage book about art-making that deserves a readership beyond Cave’s fan base.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60737-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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