These genuine prayers will inspire readers to pray despite fluctuations in one’s soul and in the world.

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I PRAY ANYWAY

DEVOTIONS FOR THE AMBIVALENT

A collection of candid prayers that vacillate between faith and doubt, pleasure and pain, and virtue and vice.

Debut author Wilson-Sanford doesn’t sugarcoat her spiritual experiences in these prayers. Her “devotions for the ambivalent” reflect the transcendent power of prayer and spirituality but also the many human follies that keep people from such transcendence. For example, on the positive side, she writes, “To think prayer produces results / Now there’s an idea / Not just comfort or yearning as a last resort / But a force / … / Not mental shenanigans / … / But transforming energy.” On the other hand, though, she writes, “No prayer tonight / Just thrashing / Lashing out at my own distractions / Too busy being mad at me / … / Oh well / More to come.” Another theme is the importance of looking outside oneself. In one prayer, she writes, “There is a world out there / Try that on / Soldiers on any side who want to be home /… / Hungry, hungry people in a fat land / Try those lenses on.” Wilson-Sanford also includes short reflections on her own life at the beginning of each of 12 “months” containing 365 short prayers in total. In these, she describes her fluctuating faith during her youth, the strength that prayer brought her at various change-points in adulthood (including marriage, divorce, single parenting, and stepparenting), and finally, the spiritual progression of her later years. These stories, too, reflect ambivalence: “Under duress, I turned to God-ness. / During good spells, not so much.” The key characteristic of this prayer collection is its authenticity. These devotions have their ups and downs, and yet despite occasional backsliding, there’s a subtle spiritual maturation as the book goes on. The prayers wouldn’t be complete without Wilson-Sanford’s autobiographical reflections, as they give important context to both her faith and inner turmoil and provide real-life examples of the ebb and flow of life, which many readers will be able to relate to. Although there are sporadic Christian references, the author emphasizes spirituality over religiosity, sometimes even criticizing traditional religion: “Modern religion has a problem / Of being bored with itself / Yadda yadda yadda / Droning hymn.” Not all the prayers are equal in quality; some are too vague to carry great meaning, and others include language that lacks the poetic mood of other verses (“Get behind me, Monkey Mind / Shut up, Words / It’s my experience, so I’ll have it”). The vast majority, however, are full of wisdom and humor, validating readers’ own difficult spiritual journeys and encouraging them to use prayer as a means to transform themselves and the world around them. Also, if the prayers are read continuously instead of sporadically, they do begin to sound redundant and lose some of their energy; hence, they are best savored and pondered individually rather than devoured all in one sitting.

These genuine prayers will inspire readers to pray despite fluctuations in one’s soul and in the world.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9863386-0-1

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Red Shoe

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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