A short and sweet compilation, but one that has little substance, even when tackling big ideas.


A varied debut collection of short poems, stories, and essays.

“Life can be sweet, salty, hot, cold and even stale, like kettle corn,” Metcalf writes in the introduction to this compilation of verse, brief fiction, and other writings. In “Bogey,” one of the shortest and most bittersweet tales here, a man named Thomas narrates the moment when he puts his dog, and best friend, down. Other stories also offer brief glimpses into characters’ lives and thoughts: In “Some Stranger,” a bests-selling author learns the value of trusting others after experiencing a bad car wreck; a woman reflects on her difficult work in a psychiatric ward and taking care of her mother in “Chocolate and Troy”; and a titular “Underwater Angel” narrates guiding a “newly dead” woman across a peaceful shore of sparkling light and rainbows. In short essays, Metcalf shares her own thoughts on faith (“It is synonymous with trusting confidence”), philosophy (“Philosophy sounds like God. Why should it not be?”), and her reaction to a Rudyard Kipling poem (“I have a ‘Gunga Din.’ His name is Jesus”). Mixed in are several verses that mostly follow very simple rhyme schemes. In one, the speaker describes “Utopia” as “Not having any awkward vibes / Accepting there are varied lives / Forgiving all who insult me / Understanding they don’t see.” Like the stories, these poems depict poignant and sometimes-uplifting moments. However, the childlike nature of the rhymes often blunt their impact, and they usually focus on basic themes; one poem (“Hate and It’s [sic] Cure”) includes the rather obvious line, “There is nothing good about hate.” Still, Christian readers looking for a literary snack, akin to the one referenced in the book’s title, will appreciate how easily these works go down.

A short and sweet compilation, but one that has little substance, even when tackling big ideas.

Pub Date: May 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-982205-00-3

Page Count: 126

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2018

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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 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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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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