A candid, sometimes moving, but flawed memoir.

SECONDS AND INCHES

A MEMOIR

A divorce coach and HuffPost contributor recounts how she found the courage to love an imperfect life filled with episodes of addiction, heartbreak, and trauma.

Born with a last name that means “one who wrestles with God” and descended from individuals who barely survived the Holocaust, Israel seemed destined to endure more than her share of personal difficulties. As a child, she writes, “our mom was passed out drunk and high on the couch most days after work…[and] our dad drank all night after he got home.” If all seemed well, it was because the author’s mother and father were determined to “keep the outside looking good,” a lesson they passed on to their daughter. During adolescence, Israel was dealing with a “raging eating disorder” as well as substance abuse problems and bad relationships with emotionally disordered men. She attempted suicide in college and spent two years recovering and building a strong relationship with God. At age 24, Israel married a man who was her admitted opposite but who also offered her the first “real partnership” she ever had. Everything appeared “perfect.” However, by the time Israel had her third son, Levi, she and her husband were leading “separate lives.” Levi soon developed a rare neurovascular condition that at first mystified doctors. In the years that followed, his many health crises strained an already problematic marriage, revealing the emotional chasm that had developed between Israel and her husband; they later divorced. Without a doubt, Israel’s account is heartfelt and authentic. However, because the author attempts to achieve so much all at once—telling the story of her life and the lives of her Holocaust forbears without a narrowing of thematic focus; thanking every individual who taught her lessons or changed her life in end-of-chapter “letters”—the pacing sometimes suffers, as does the structural interconnectedness of the book.

A candid, sometimes moving, but flawed memoir.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-938841-12-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Jaded Ibis Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BROKEN (IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY)

The Bloggess is back to survey the hazards and hilarity of imperfection.

Lawson is a wanderer. Whether on her award-winning blog or in the pages of her bestselling books, she reliably takes readers to places they weren’t even aware they wanted to go—e.g., shopping for dog condoms or witnessing what appears to be a satanic ritual. Longtime fans of the author’s prose know that the destinations really aren’t the point; it’s the laugh-out-loud, tears-streaming-down-your-face journeys that make her writing so irresistible. This book is another solid collection of humorous musings on everyday life, or at least the life of a self-described “super introvert” who has a fantastic imagination and dozens of chosen spirit animals. While Furiously Happy centered on the idea of making good mental health days exceptionally good, her latest celebrates the notion that being broken is beautiful—or at least nothing to be ashamed of. “I have managed to fuck shit up in shockingly impressive ways and still be considered a fairly acceptable person,” writes Lawson, who has made something of an art form out of awkward confessionals. For example, she chronicles a mix-up at the post office that left her with a “big ol’ sack filled with a dozen small squishy penises [with] smiley faces painted on them.” It’s not all laughs, though, as the author addresses her ongoing battle with both physical and mental illness, including a trial of transcranial magnetic stimulation, a relatively new therapy for people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression. The author’s colloquial narrative style may not suit the linear-narrative crowd, but this isn’t for them. “What we really want,” she writes, “is to know we’re not alone in our terribleness….Human foibles are what make us us, and the art of mortification is what brings us all together.” The material is fresh, but the scaffolding is the same.

Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-07703-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more