Readers willing to endure choppy statements and a profusion of capital letters will come away with nuanced, occasionally...


ENOS: Prayers for Rewards of Mercy After Enos


Forss’ (The Way We Were, 2014) personal tome concerns aliens, God, and ideas for humanity.

After a lengthy introduction about the author’s intention to take the reader “on a logical journey back to Godhead,” the book begins in 1976 with the author living in New York City. He discovered that June 28 would be “the start of the most pivotal day of my life.” The city was alive for the upcoming bicentennial, and the author tried selling photographs to tourists. The task wasn’t going so well when he encountered a former hippie named Buffy, who had some years earlier related an experience involving aliens and their immense wisdom. Though Buffy claimed her experience was just a trip, the author felt differently; in order to adequately tell Buffy’s story, he had to “ask for it from God somehow, as a pure spiritual quest.” And so he did. Thus, thanks to the author’s efforts, the aliens revealed valuable information for humanity, such as the need to not subscribe to any particular religion as well as the fact that “THERE IS A RICH WORLD BEYOND THE ATOMS OF ALL LIVING CELLS.” But the alien adventure does not end there. Incorporating drawings, poems, black-and-white photographs, and an investigation into the thoughts of different individuals (e.g., a dying man), the recollected experience is expansive to say the least. From there, though, things get even stranger, particularly in thornier sections, as when the aliens explain that “SOME HOMOSEXUALITY IS SIMPLY NOTHING MORE THAN A SCRUMPTIOUSLY HORNY CALLING FOR SEX WITHOUT THE NEED FOR A PROUDLY DISPLAYED LOVER OR FAMILY COMMITMENT IDEAL.Patient readers may nevertheless find moments of intrigue, like concepts presented by the aliens that are explored later in the author’s own words: “The Aliens say that the future and the past are places! This means that the past is very much alive in some area and so is the future!”

Readers willing to endure choppy statements and a profusion of capital letters will come away with nuanced, occasionally controversial, ideas about life and existence.

Pub Date: April 7, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4257-3943-0

Page Count: 730

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.


New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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