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A CUP OF TEA IN WONDERLAND

A quick if intellectually complex read describes a spiritual journey rooted in Einstein’s Princeton.

Journalist and English professor Clovis, who won an Outstanding Book Award from the National Association of Black Journalists for an earlier book, returns with a poetic work.

A lot goes on at the Firestone Library at Princeton University, and not in the expected way. For starters, there are the “Virtual Library and Librarians,” who are “aware of your every move,” and “the aroma of an herbal tea at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, a racist and segregated place,” suggests upfront that readers will go down a rabbit hole into a world that is at once surrealistic and contemporary. You must “slow life down enough” to understand what you read in a work that brings together Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, chess, and physics. At one point, “you find your body in the quantum field,” or being pulled through a chessboard floor by quantum forces. At another you are in Einstein’s classroom, a “special place” hidden on the Princeton campus. Abrupt surprises are in store as things take ever more surreal turns and readers are reminded that “space and time exist in dual waves and your mind will play tricks on you as you travel.” In addition to that black hole that opens up on a chessboard floor, there’s a reference to the 2022 mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. Readers without a basic grounding in physics and Lewis Carroll may feel lost until the book reveals that there’s a spiritual side to their journey: They must remember that “it is LOVE that allows us to step our way through.” They must also realize that “YOU are an endless blessing in being as ONE with God in synchronicity.”

With fewer than 100 pages, this ambitious work is brief. No sooner has the herbal tea at the Mad Hatter’s party been served than the adventure is just about over. The short length and fierce energy keep everything in sometimes-chaotic motion. All of it relates to “A beacon of light” that “shines through the darkness to comfort YOU called, insight, inspiration, and synchronicity in the flow of energy.” Amid clichés like that “beacon of light,” however, there’s plenty of food for thought in comments such as: “Becoming ONE with the Divine, YOU are transformed by this journey.” Some of the physics terms, like quantum field and quantum space, if essential to the author’s aims, may sail over the heads of nonscientific readers. At best, those terms only nod to science instead of giving a nuanced picture of it, and while the early reference to racism and segregation suggests that the work may be making a statement about them, it isn’t clear what it is. Similarly, the only piece of Einstein’s work that appears in the text (other than an allusion to relativity) is his most obvious equation: e=mc2. Its inclusion adds little to the story and may leave readers feeling that there must be more to be found in poking around Einstein’s classroom. Nevertheless, the book moves with lightning speed, and readers interested in cosmic questions will have a fast-paced opportunity to consider what it means to be “ONE with God in synchronicity.”

A quick if intellectually complex read describes a spiritual journey rooted in Einstein’s Princeton.

Pub Date: June 10, 2022

ISBN: 979-8765229675

Page Count: 80

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2022

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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GREENLIGHTS

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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