A touching and ultimately uplifting story of redefining what’s possible through faith.

Walking with Herb

A SPIRITUAL GOLFING JOURNEY TO THE MASTERS

In Bullock’s warmhearted and amusing fiction debut, a happily married banker on the verge of retirement finds himself called to become a prophet of God—and perhaps the golfing world’s newest celebrity.

Mild-mannered ordinary guy Joe Goodman, 63, is an avid golfer looking forward to puttering around the links during his imminent retirement. He’s happy with his life—happy to consider it nothing extraordinary. But the extraordinary intervenes. After a weekend contentedly watching the Masters Tournament on TV, Joe is at work when he receives a message from God on his computer (“Have you run out of stone tablets?” Joe asks). God tells Joe that, far from being a spectator, he’s going to play in the following year’s Masters, and—if his faith is strong enough—he’s going to win. This is nothing Joe has ever imagined, of course; like a long string of prophets before him, he asks, “Are you sure you’ve got the right guy?” In a series of smoothly controlled chapters, his unexpected journey unfolds. Joe’s heaven-sent companion on that journey is a man named Herb Friday, who assures him, “This is going to be hard work, but lots of fun.” Under Herb’s guidance, Joe quickly progresses through local and regional tournaments, gaining trophies and confidence despite the distractions he encounters at work, where busybody governmental regulations are making his bank’s ordinary operations more difficult. As the months pass, Joe’s supportive wife tells him she’s convinced that “God picked the right two guys for this mission.” As Joe’s game improves, Bullock adroitly brings alive the world of golf and connects it—without being heavy-handed or preachy—to the nature of personal belief. This isn’t just for golfers, though. Bullock’s gentle good humor sparkles throughout, and the story’s climax will bring a smile to just about any reader’s face.

A touching and ultimately uplifting story of redefining what’s possible through faith.

Pub Date: March 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4917-5795-6

Page Count: 170

Publisher: True Directions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2015

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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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Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

WHEN THE GAME WAS OURS

NBA legends Bird and Johnson, fierce rivals during their playing days, team up on a mutual career retrospective.

With megastars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and international superstars like China’s Yao Ming pushing it to ever-greater heights of popularity today, it’s difficult to imagine the NBA in 1979, when financial problems, drug scandals and racial issues threatened to destroy the fledgling league. Fortunately, that year marked the coming of two young saviors—one a flashy, charismatic African-American and the other a cocky, blond, self-described “hick.” Arriving fresh off a showdown in the NCAA championship game in which Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans defeated Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores—still the highest-rated college basketball game ever—the duo changed the course of history not just for the league, but the sport itself. While the pair’s on-court accomplishments have been exhaustively chronicled, the narrative hook here is unprecedented insight and commentary from the stars themselves on their unique relationship, a compelling mixture of bitter rivalry and mutual admiration. This snapshot of their respective careers delves with varying degrees of depth into the lives of each man and their on- and off-court achievements, including the historic championship games between Johnson’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics, their trailblazing endorsement deals and Johnson’s stunning announcement in 1991 that he had tested positive for HIV. Ironically, this nostalgic chronicle about the two men who, along with Michael Jordan, turned more fans onto NBA basketball than any other players, will likely appeal primarily to a narrow cross-section of readers: Bird/Magic fans and hardcore hoop-heads.

Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-547-22547-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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