To call this hokum is to malign that useful word. Suffice it to say that Carpenter’s film is a hell of a lot more fun.

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OUR OCCULTED HISTORY

DO THE GLOBAL ELITE CONCEAL ANCIENT ALIENS?

An Art Bell–like exercise in conspiracy theory.

Fans of Rowdy Roddy Piper’s John Carpenter romp They Live (1988) know the setup: “conventional science, and perhaps even institutions administered by the federal government or funded by the wealthy elite, has worked to conceal our possible true heritage.” Noting the weasel words “perhaps” and “possible,” what might that heritage be? Well, children, we’re all stardust, and in the weirdness of our DNA—so much of which, conspiracy theorist Marrs (The Rise of the Fourth Reich: The Secret Societies that Threaten to Take Over America, 2008, etc.) writes, is made up of a useless, redundant nothingness of dead code—we may just harbor clues to a time when strange critters called the Anunnaki strode the Earth. Or maybe most of us are just meat for the overlords, who are biding their time—and maybe the “wealthy elite” and their minions are really the Anunnaki in disguise. After all, you knew Mitt Romney acted a little weirdly and robotically up there on the hustings, didn’t you? Throughout this book, which P.T. Barnum would have loved, Marrs throws every conspiracy theory he can at the problem, from the “occulted” existence of a 10th planet in the solar system (the masters don’t want you to know about that, of course) to alchemy and the hidden history of gold. The result is an odd sort of populism, whereby we earthlings are urged to rebel against our corporate overlords and their “millennia-long agenda of attempting to subjugate the human population.” Huzzah!

To call this hokum is to malign that useful word. Suffice it to say that Carpenter’s film is a hell of a lot more fun.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-213031-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 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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