A strikingly honest, if unevenly written, account of time spent with life and death.

HOW GOD SHOWS UP

A memoir of one woman’s experiences with tragedy and spirituality.

Debut author Marie’s 11-year-old daughter Emily suddenly died while attending a soccer camp in 1983. The author includes a photo of her open casket, adorned with cloth rainbows and stuffed animals. Marie wondered how she could carry on after such a shocking occurrence, and she explains that she “needed assurance” that Emily “was being cared for in heaven.” This led her to become involved with a church called the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness and to adopt a personal policy to “Let Go and Let God.” She met a man named Jim Daily in 1988 and soon married him; they became close as both followed MSIA techniques and found inspiration in the words of the movement’s founder, John-Roger Hinkins. The author tells of life with Jim in different parts of Alabama, of adopting an anti-inflammatory diet to counter arthritis, and of eventually supporting Jim as he battled cancer. This memoir includes many evocative details, such as how the author accomplished the nearly unthinkable task of piecing together what happened on the last day of her daughter’s life. Other portions of the book, however, are less engaging, such as a list of real estate transactions that she conducted with Jim. The latter is relevant, as the couple moved often in a short period of time, but it provides little in the way of emotional substance. The book is at its most touching when it explores spiritual specifics; for instance, Marie says that every night, she and Jim meditated and “practiced leaving our body, intending to rest in the healing arms of God’s Love.” Some moments rely heavily on MSIA-related language, such as “We held this focus to ask for the Light of Father/Mother/God.” In the end, readers will come to understand how the author met the challenge of meeting death head-on.

A strikingly honest, if unevenly written, account of time spent with life and death.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-8751-4

Page Count: 238

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2018

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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 wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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