An original and thoughtful guide for writers.

WRITING WITH YOUR EVER-PRESENT MUSE

75 CATALYTIC READS, WISDOM POCKETS, AND LIVING EXPERIMENTS

Friesen offers a journey through the experiential side of writing, led by one’s inner source of inspiration, or “ever-present muse.”

There’s no shortage of books on the writing craft, but many of them focus on its technical aspects while failing to consider the undefinable spark that separates good writers from great ones. Friesen focuses on this spark, or “muse,” in a guide designed to help artists strip away the artifice, doubt, and distraction that may be impeding their writing. Using the analogy of a flower, she presents five petals, or stages, in the growth of a writer: “Opening to Wonder,” “Risking the Heart,” “Following the Energy,” “Freeing the Mind,” and “Expressing With Presence.” To enrich readers’ understanding of each stage, she splits them into 15 topics, such as “Re-enchanting the Familiar” and “Tailored Expression,” intended to deepen writers’ understanding of their muse. Throughout, the author effectively engages readers with reflection as well as writing practice. “Catalytic Reads” begins with an enticement to “Experience This” or envision an environment in which they are one with their craft; “Wisdom Pockets” contains more practical writing advice, and “Living Experiments” encourage readers to try different exercises to employ new lessons. Friesen’s approach can feel a bit esoteric at times, but it also provides tremendous practical insight, shedding new light on common writing challenges, such as distraction, revision, and finding one’s voice. She also encourages writers to confront barriers to their potential, such as self-delusion, and occasionally adds humor to her advice to move writing beyond fear to a more joyous artistic experience.

An original and thoughtful guide for writers.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A powerful melding of image and text inspired by Instagram yet original in its execution.

A BOOK OF DAYS

Smith returns with a photo-heavy book of days, celebrating births, deaths, and the quotidian, all anchored by her distinctive style.

In 2018, the musician and National Book Award–winning author began posting on Instagram, and the account quickly took off. Inspired by the captioned photo format, this book provides an image for every day of the year and descriptions that are by turns intimate, humorous, and insightful, and each bit of text adds human depth to the image. Smith, who writes and takes pictures every day, is clearly comfortable with the social media platform—which “has served as a way to share old and new discoveries, celebrate birthdays, remember the departed, and salute our youth”—and the material translates well to the page. The book, which is both visually impactful and lyrically moving, uses Instagram as a point of departure, but it goes well beyond to plumb Smith’s extensive archives. The deeply personal collection of photos includes old Polaroid images, recent cellphone snapshots, and much-thumbed film prints, spanning across decades to bring readers from the counterculture movement of the 1960s to the present. Many pages are taken up with the graves and birthdays of writers and artists, many of whom the author knew personally. We also meet her cat, “Cairo, my Abyssinian. A sweet little thing the color of the pyramids, with a loyal and peaceful disposition.” Part calendar, part memoir, and part cultural record, the book serves as a rich exploration of the author’s fascinating mind. “Offered in gratitude, as a place to be heartened, even in the basest of times,” it reminds us that “each day is precious, for we are yet breathing, moved by the way light falls on a high branch, or a morning worktable, or the sculpted headstone of a beloved poet.”

A powerful melding of image and text inspired by Instagram yet original in its execution.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-44854-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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Strictly for dittoheads.

RADIO'S GREATEST OF ALL TIME

An unabashed celebration of the late talking head.

Rush Limbaugh (1951-2021) insisted that he had a direct line to God, who blessed him with brilliance unseen since the time of the Messiah. In his tribute, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis calls him “the greatest broadcaster that [sic] ever lived.” That’s an accidental anointment, given checkered beginnings. Limbaugh himself records that, after earning a failing grade for not properly outlining a speech, he dropped out of college—doubtless the cause of his scorn for higher education. This book is a constant gush of cult-of-personality praise, with tributes from Ben Carson, Mike Pence, Donald Trump, and others. One radio caller called Limbaugh “practically perfect” and a latter-day George Washington by virtue of “the magnetism and the trust and the belief of all the people.” Limbaugh insists that conservatives are all about love, though he filled the airwaves with bitter, divisive invective about the evils of liberals, as with this tidbit: “to liberals, the Bill of Rights is horrible, the Bill of Rights grants citizens freedom….The Bill of Rights limits the federal government, and that’s negative to a socialist like Obama.” Moreover, “to Democrats, America’s heartland is ‘flyover’ country. They don’t know, or like, the Americans who live there, or their values.” Worse still for a money machine like Limbaugh, who flew over that heartland in a private jet while smoking fat cigars, liberals like Obama are “trying to socialize profit so that [they] can claim it”—anathema to wealthy Republicans, who prefer to socialize risk by way of bailouts while keeping the profits for themselves. Limbaugh fans will certainly eat this up, though a segment of the Republican caucus in Congress (Marjorie Taylor Greene et al.) might want to read past Limbaugh’s repeated insistence that “peace can’t be achieved by ‘developing an understanding’ with the Russian people.”

Strictly for dittoheads.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 9781668001844

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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