Digressive, impenetrable writing leads disappointingly to bewilderment.

DON'T PANIC

This confusing debut collection of homilies, personal reminiscences, and treatises by Mody raises the possibility of a blissful existence but struggles to convey how.

“Just step out of the lingering painful memories and get rid of stress, tension and anxiety from life as we all are BORN TO LIVE A BLISSFUL LIFE,” proclaims the frontispiece of this self-help guide. The 532 pages that follow are a mishmash of fictional stories intended to bring enlightenment, anecdotal life lessons learned by Mody, and essays on life’s evils and how to avoid them. The book opens with a story about a “saint” who meets a robber. The saint asks the robber to ask his family members if they approve of his villainous activities. The outcome of the story is that the saint pricks the robber’s conscience, resulting in him changing his ways. This is followed by an essay on how mothers are pivotal in deterring their children from becoming terrorists, rapists, and mass murderers. There is also a peculiar tale about a priest who is reserving tickets to see a Shakespeare play and, in a conversation with the theater manager, learns that “one cannot escape from one’s own conscience.” The collection includes details of the author’s medical history and dogs. This highly digressive book would benefit from being thoroughly edited for clarity: “The overall surroundings are such that it becomes difficult to restrict youngsters trapped in to certain pockets where they lured to become offenders, criminals or terrorists. We all know that the modern technological gadgets make the process much easier for those who want to misuse.” This writing style makes an already amorphous subject all the more difficult to grasp. Mody’s opinion on children with disabilities, whom he refers to as “special children,” may prove uncomfortable for some readers: “A special child is born so as ultimately to qualify parents and all concerned for elevation during this life or afterlife.” This book is difficult to read and rarely clearly conveys, explains, or supports any of its complex ideas. Despite its sometimes contentious viewpoint, there is a sense that it was written with the benevolent hope of improving society, even if it falls significantly short of the mark in its execution.

Digressive, impenetrable writing leads disappointingly to bewilderment.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4917-6360-5

Page Count: 544

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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