Traditional glimpses of aging for fans of fun, light verse.

JOYS AND LAMENTS OF GETTING OLDER

POEMS BY EHR SCHOBER

Poet Schober’s debut collection of rhyming witticisms serves as a paean to the joy of life.

This collection presents simple, unpolished verse that’s somewhat old-fashioned at times but also somewhat infectious. The author infuses these short poems with humor as she laments the aches, pains and memory loss of aging, but she also celebrates the fun of discovering the senior discount at the movies. Schober has a tongue-in-cheek philosophy regarding hearing loss: At least she “can’t hear all the bad news anymore.” Overall, the poems temper life’s negatives with large doses of optimism, as when the author proudly embraces the wrinkles she has earned—most of which, she says, are the result of laughter. Schober also compares childhood to old age; in one poem, she describes how, as a child, she jumped off her squeaky tricycle to gaze in wonder at a little yellow wildflower, but when she grew up, she considered wildflowers to be weeds in her garden. Now older and wiser, she once again sees wildflowers as a “gift from the universe.” Readers may find some of the images and situations a bit stereotypical, as when the author describes sitting in a rocking chair, dreaming about days long gone. However, in many poems, the author resolves to live in the moment and pursue stimulating activities, such as reading every book on her dusty shelves or daring to wear vermillion. Several poems are simply short quips intended to make readers chuckle, including, “I used to skip and run. / Oh, what fun! / Now you hear me squawking / Just walking.” The individual poems are untitled, which works well with the format—pages adorned with cute black-and-white animal cartoons. The white space and larger print provides an easy reading experience. Readers shouldn’t look for serious poetry here, but there are serious themes beneath the humor. Although life has its share of sorrow and hardship, Schober admirably chooses to accentuate the positive in this collection.

Traditional glimpses of aging for fans of fun, light verse.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479336296

Page Count: 100

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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

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GREENLIGHTS

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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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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