A generous, stirring collection honoring loving relationships, hope in hard times and religious devotion.

THE WINDS OF TIME

Newfoundland-born author Difalco adds to her growing catalog of inspirational verse with a masterful collection of poems.

The author’s latest poetry collection—the first published for an American audience—is a veritable font of wisdom about such profound issues as life, death, family and faith. Like many other talented poets, Difalco uses her own experiences, her memories, and stories told to her as inspiration for verse. In one particularly poignant piece, she reminisces about her grandparents who were lighthouse keepers: “The winds of time now gently flow / The lamps are trimmed and fit / From sunset rays till early dawn / All through the night you sit.” She bases many of her precisely metered verses on real events, as in the stirring “Don’t Leave Me,” about a lone survivor of a plane crash awaiting help in the cold ocean: “I must not drift back into night.” In “Only a Girl,” based on a story told to the poet, an old man buries his wife but sees her only as she was when she was young. Although a few verses reflect larger socioeconomic issues such as homelessness or environmental decay, the main themes are nostalgia and finding strength in religious faith. The collection could have drifted dangerously toward sentimentality, but the author’s deft touch maintains a wise voice throughout, keeping the verses strong and clear rather than melodramatic—a difficult high-wire act for any writer. Despite her tendencies toward Christian themes, nonbelievers may find solace and joy in her descriptions of the power of the natural world and of the comfort of loving family members past and present. This volume might make an excellent gift for friends in need of a touchstone of inspiration.

A generous, stirring collection honoring loving relationships, hope in hard times and religious devotion. 

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-1452579924

Page Count: 94

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2014

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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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