A dramatic and often absorbing theory of the spirit world.

CONNECTIONS 2

THE GATHERING

A spiritualist offers more of his insights into the meaning of life and the afterlife.

Chodl follows up Connections (2016) with this sequel chronicling his further endeavors as a self-proclaimed psychic medium. He asserts that he has 15 “Guides,” each from “the Legions of the Archangels” who are “preparing for the next cleansing of this plane”; he says that these Guides help him render aid and make connections between living people and the spirits of those who’ve “passed over” to another plane of existence. Regarding the latter, Chodl professes a great deal of information: “Once we transition from this three-dimensional plane,” he writes at one point, “we will, once again, be reawakened to our connection to the Akashic Field of All Knowledge.” Chodl compares himself to John the Baptist, noting that his job is to “prepare the way” (adding puckishly, “I just have to be careful not to lose my head over it”) and to lay the groundwork for something called the Gathering, a “collective of people (souls), who…have come to the realization that there is a universal truth and access to the sum of all knowledge.” Chodl engagingly describes a world brimming with supernatural elements—one in which the spirits of friends and family who’ve died may contact the living and fill a void in their lives. They also make living people’s later transition to a new plane easier to accept, according to the author: “The familiarity of the loved one smooths the process of transition as it affects the living,” he writes. Overall, the author clearly lays out his spiritual systems over the course of this work. However, at one point, he quotes the famous maxim that “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; no one is entitled to their own facts,” without offering convincing evidence for the factual basis of his book’s claims. Even so, even skeptical readers will find that his narrative is never less than interesting.

A dramatic and often absorbing theory of the spirit world.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982247-99-7

Page Count: 186

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 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: Dec. 1, 2022

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