An invitingly personal account of the spiritual and the strange.



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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.


Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?