A warmhearted, if not groundbreaking, work about the transmission of wisdom.




In Turner’s debut novel, a young man traveling through Alaska meets a mysterious figure in the wilderness who instructs him on the true nature of wisdom.

Gabriel is a young college student looking for adventure. While backpacking with friends in Alaska and hoping to earn money working on the new pipeline, Gabriel goes for a solitary moonlight walk and encounters a flute-playing mountain man. This strange, elderly man has a wolf and a raven as companions. Although he looks shaggy and scraggly, he turns out to be highly cultured. His cabin, which appears to be bigger inside than out, has a good library, Persian carpets and a baby grand piano. He and Gabriel have a wide-ranging conversation in which Gabriel learns, among other things, to use strength in service to others, to not mistake humility for weakness, to question one’s own truths and to seek wisdom. Turner, who has lived in Alaska for 30 years, writes vivid and evocative descriptions of nature: “Rough-hewn mountains rose to the sky all around, and the forests carpeted them as far up as they could before losing breath and the ability to climb any higher.” Once Gabriel meets the wizard, however, the novel’s focus turns to the old man’s teachings, conducted in a single overnight conversation. “I had always enjoyed campfire philosophy and mountaintop metaphysics,” says Gabriel, and readers who feel similarly will enjoy this book. Gabriel learns about the Noble Arts (including language, listening, patience, imagination, influence, finance and giving) and the two Great Powers of the Spirit (the abilities to love and create). Although this information is imparted with liveliness and humor, some readers may find much of it familiar—a conglomeration of well-known ideas from literature, self-help books, New Age philosophy, psychology and other tales of shamanic encounters.

A warmhearted, if not groundbreaking, work about the transmission of wisdom.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475107074

Page Count: 162

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2013

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A smart collection of articles and interviews on stupidity.


Are people getting dumber, or does it just look that way?

That question underlies this collection of essays by and interviews with psychologists, neurologists, philosophers, and other well-credentialed intellectuals. A handful of contributors have ties to North American universities—Dan Ariely, Alison Gopnik, and Daniel Kahneman among them—but most live in France, and their views have a Gallic flavor: blunt, opinionated, and tolerant of terms in disfavor in the U.S., including, as translated from the French by Schillinger, moron, idiot, and imbecile. Marmion, a France-based psychologist, sets the tone by rebutting the idea that we live in a “golden age of idiocy”: “As far back as the written record extends, the greatest minds of their ages believed this to be the case.” Nonetheless, today’s follies differ in two ways from those of the past. One is that the stakes are higher: “The novelty of the contemporary era is that it would take only one idiot with a red button to eradicate all stupidity, and the whole world with it. An idiot elected by sheep who were only too proud to choose their slaughterer.” The other is that—owing partly to social media—human follies are more visible, whether they involve UFO sightings or “some jerk pressing the elevator button like a maniac when it’s already been pressed.” Social psychologist Ewa Drozda-Senkowska distinguishes between ignorance and stupidity, noting that “stupidity, true stupidity, is the hallmark of a frightening intellectual complacency that leaves absolutely no room for doubt.” Other experts consider whether stupidity has an evolutionary basis, how it erodes morale, and the “very particular kind of adult stupidity” exemplified by Donald Trump. Although not a self-help guide, this book suggests that it rarely pays to argue with blockheads. Unfortunately, notes neuropsychologist Sebastian Dieguez, the “imbecile…doesn’t have the mental resources that would permit him to perceive his own imbecility.”

A smart collection of articles and interviews on stupidity.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-14-313499-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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