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A thought-provoking, if uneven, collection designed to clarify the true nature of happiness.

A compendium of aphorisms aimed at helping readers achieve contentment.

Byer’s debut attempts to differentiate between pleasure and happiness. According to the author, this distinction hinges on the notions that pleasure is basal, “the effect of our desires as an instinctive motivational process,” and that happiness is only possible when one’s “higher thinking” overrides those instincts. When one concentrates only on pleasure, he says, it results in stress and anxiety: “To become free we must control what controls us,” Byer writes, “and that is us.” To help readers achieve “higher thinking,” Byer offers a collection of 3,300 axioms, grouped around the key concepts of “Peace,” “Desire and Fear,” “Pleasure,” “Truth,” and “Wisdom,” among others. These axioms vary considerably in quality and impact. Some are bland statements of fact, such as “We seem to go through our lives without knowing why we do what we do.” Others are instructional: “We rationalize our desires by providing plausible but untrue reasons for our conduct.” Life, according to Byer, is the discovery of the relationship among nature, society, and ourselves, and “our truth is the ability to know that the cause of our discontent was us.” This epigrammatic approach makes the book compulsively readable. However, it also lends the collection an opaque quality that would have been considerably lessened if the author had elaborated more on his ideas. His opening discussion of the structural difference between pleasure and happiness, for example, is tantalizingly brief, and it will no doubt leave readers wanting more in-depth analysis and fewer tossed-off maxims.

A thought-provoking, if uneven, collection designed to clarify the true nature of happiness.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-96656-3

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Byer Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2018

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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