Heartfelt reflections on the lessons and strength to be gained from grief and loss.

How Learning to Say Goodbye Taught Me How to Live

McClung muses on the spiritual insights learned during the last six months of her best friend’s life in this debut memoir.

When McClung, just emerging from a two-year grieving process over the death of her mother, found out that her best friend, Rob, had stage 4 breast cancer, she vowed, “I would not lose myself in grief again.” In this journal, the author, who had left a New York City media career to take care of her mother in Texas, shares the spiritual journey that she and her friend traveled during the last six months of Rob’s life. McClung notes that while they “had had disciplined spiritual practices for the past thirty years,” Rob had “kept her Higher Self” at arm’s length. After Rob’s partner died suddenly, and then her mother a few weeks later, McClung convinced her to move from Los Angeles to Texas to spend her final days with her father and brother, whom she had not seen in 22 years. The two women encountered what they termed “out of the blues” appearances of “angels” (including a friend named Gabriel) that made this transition more bearable. By memoir’s end, Rob makes her “crossing,” but not before admitting that she finally felt loved during a family Christmas celebration, an event that McClung, who gave her friend necessary space during this time, did not take part in. The author ends each chapter with resonant questions for readers to ponder. McClung has written a thoughtful think piece that also serves as a touching tribute to “one of my greatest teachers during the worst time of her life.” The questions the author presents readers arise appropriately from her narrative and also have universal relevance, including “When is the last time you said you were sorry to yourself or another?” While some details are tantalizingly underdeveloped (including Rob’s “sick and depressed” partner), McClung offers many well-sketched, even funny, anecdotes, including her “outburst” in Target arguing by phone with Rob about buying her an outfit.

Heartfelt reflections on the lessons and strength to be gained from grief and loss.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5043-3909-4

Page Count: 166

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...

EVERYTHING IS F*CKED

A BOOK ABOUT HOPE

The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more