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 top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.

CINEMA SPECULATION

The acclaimed director displays his talents as a film critic.

Tarantino’s collection of essays about the important movies of his formative years is packed with everything needed for a powerful review: facts about the work, context about the creative decisions, and whether or not it was successful. The Oscar-winning director of classic films like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs offers plenty of attitude with his thoughts on movies ranging from Animal House to Bullitt to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to The Big Chill. Whether you agree with his assessments or not, he provides the original reporting and insights only a veteran director would notice, and his engaging style makes it impossible to leave an essay without learning something. The concepts he smashes together in two sentences about Taxi Driver would take a semester of film theory class to unpack. Taxi Driver isn’t a “paraphrased remake” of The Searchers like Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? is a paraphrased remake of Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby or De Palma’s Dressed To Kill is a paraphrased remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho. But it’s about as close as you can get to a paraphrased remake without actually being one. Robert De Niro’s taxi driving protagonist Travis Bickle is John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards. Like any good critic, Tarantino reveals bits of himself as he discusses the films that are important to him, recalling where he was when he first saw them and what the crowd was like. Perhaps not surprisingly, the author was raised by movie-loving parents who took him along to watch whatever they were watching, even if it included violent or sexual imagery. At the age of 8, he had seen the very adult MASH three times. Suddenly the dark humor of Kill Bill makes much more sense. With this collection, Tarantino offers well-researched love letters to his favorite movies of one of Hollywood’s most ambitious eras.

A top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-311258-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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“A record is so much better when you can believe it.” Dylan is clearly a believer, and he will convince readers to follow.

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THE PHILOSOPHY OF MODERN SONG

The iconic singer/songwriter reflects on a lifetime of listening to music.

Nostalgia abounds in Bob Dylan’s eclectic and eccentric collection of impressive musical appreciations. Examining 66 songs across numerous genres, going back to Stephen Foster’s “Nelly Was a Lady” (1849), the author offers an extensive hodgepodge of illustrations and photographs alongside rich, image-laden, impressionistic prose. There is no introduction or foreword. Instead, Dylan dives right in with “Detroit City,” Bobby Blare’s 1963 single: “What is it about lapsing into narration in a song that makes you think the singer is suddenly revealing the truth?” Throughout the text, the author is consistently engaging and often provocative in his explorations. Regarding “Witchy Woman” by the Eagles, he writes, “The lips of her cunt are a steel trap, and she covers you with cow shit—a real killer-diller and you regard her with suspicion and fear, rightly so. Homely enough to stop a clock, she’s no pussycat.” Deconstructing Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard’s “Pancho and Lefty,” Dylan describes songwriting as “editing—distilling thought down to essentials.” We can see the author’s mind working, reminiscing, but there’s little autobiography here. Where needed, he tosses in some prodigious music history and biography, and some appreciations read like short stories. Often, Dylan straightforwardly recounts what a specific song is about: “By the time you get to Phoenix it will be morning where she is, and she’ll be just getting out of bed.” Pete Seeger’s “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” is a “remembrance of things past,” and Dion and the Belmonts’ version of the Rodgers and Hart song “Where or When” is about “reincarnation.” Also making appearances are Carl Perkins, Perry Como, The Clash, Roy Orbison, Cher, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Cash, Judy Garland, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Allman Brothers, and the Grateful Dead. Bobby Darin and Willie Nelson appear twice.

“A record is so much better when you can believe it.” Dylan is clearly a believer, and he will convince readers to follow.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 9781451648706

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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