An invitingly personal account of the spiritual and the strange.

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THE MYSTERIES OF LIVING AND DYING REVEALED

Debut author Fuhler presents a book that’s part memoir, part otherworldly investigation.

This collection of memoiristic anecdotes comes with a caveat: “these stories are not about me,” the author explains—they are instead “parables” in which he has “been a participant and a witness.” These varied events include witnessing a car crash in Scotland, predicting a tornado, and encountering a wounded squirrel that was apparently seeking help. The author was born in 1958 in DeKalb, Illinois; he tells of growing up with an abusive, alcoholic mother and later developing interests in various subjects, particularly regarding linguistic and spiritual matters. Although he says that he’s never belonged to an organized religion, he asserts that he experienced the presence of the Virgin Mary and the Indian saint Anandamayi Ma. He tells of living in a number of different places and experiencing homelessness on more than one occasion; periods of hitchhiking, he says, have taken him far. His ultimate message for readers is that one should not face life “with fear and trepidation”; one should instead walk “humbly before the Creator” and be “fair in all our dealings with our fellow beings.” The work is organized into short, digestible chapters, which gives the book a steady flow. However, some chapters include passages that some will find hard to believe, such as a tale of encountering a “Bigfoot” family in the woods. In another chapter set in 1983, Fuhler describes meeting some men lugging a Steinway piano up a mountain; the main takeaway of the activity involves space aliens. At certain points, the stories generate more questions than answers; for instance, the author presents such concepts as demonic spirits and human communication with a rattlesnake with little context. Nonetheless, these disparate tales will leave readers with much to think about. The brightly colored illustrations help to add further mystery; the abstract art has a dreamy quality that often coincides with the tone of the text.

An invitingly personal account of the spiritual and the strange.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59598-753-2

Page Count: 220

Publisher: HenschelHAUS Publishing, Inc.

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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