Captivating, artfully wrought tales.

THE MOTH PRESENTS OCCASIONAL MAGIC

TRUE STORIES ABOUT DEFYING THE IMPOSSIBLE

Heartfelt stories bear eloquent witness to hopes, dreams, and triumphs.

Storytelling—in theaters, on a podcast, and on a weekly public radio show—is the mission of the nonprofit organization The Moth. From the thousands of stories shared since its founding in 1997, editor Burns (The Moth Presents All These Wonders, 2017, etc.), the organization’s artistic director, offers selections from an international roster of presenters. Some storytellers may be familiar to readers: Singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash reflects on feeling anxious and disoriented after moving to New York with her children after her divorce. On a similar theme, New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik considers how his daughter’s imaginary friend taught him what he really wanted from living in Manhattan. Psychologist and memoirist Andrew Solomon writes about starting his own “post-nuclear family” with his husband despite “complicated and difficult and elaborate circumstances.” Emmy-winning performer Faith Salie relates her obsessive search for the perfect dress to wear to divorce court. Most voices are new, imparting intimate, moving anecdotes about life, love, friendship, parenthood, and identity. Several presenters disclose the tensions over coming out as gay, dealing with poverty and homelessness, or confronting others’ perceptions of oneself as different. Undergraduate Aleeza Kazmi, of Afghan and Pakistani heritage, proclaims that she has “worked so hard to love the skin I’m in, and nothing anyone says can take that away from me.” Activist Barbara Collins Bowie recalls growing up in Mississippi during Jim Crow, when her mother’s health crisis made her realize that the civil rights movement was “a fight for life and death.” Mary Theresa Archbold, who stealthily hid her prosthetic arm from friends and roommates, writes of the challenges of being a one-armed mother of an infant. British polar explorer Ann Daniels, mother of triplets, risked her life in defiantly trekking to the North and South Poles. Vietnamese engineer Jason Trieu tells the wrenching story of escaping from South Vietnam two weeks before the region fell to the North, one of several tales of resilience and determination in the face of terror.

Captivating, artfully wrought tales.

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-90442-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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