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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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

BRAVE ENOUGH

A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.

What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-946909

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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