An earnest remembrance that will be most appropriate for readers trying to strengthen their religious faith after the death...



A mother’s memoir on losing her daughter to a tragic car accident.

On December 9, 2013, the author’s only child, Erin Rodriques, was 23 years old, planning her upcoming wedding, and starting a graduate degree program at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. That day, she went missing: She didn’t show up for work at her relatively new job, or come home to her fiance, Josh. Her parents, the author and Abel Rodriques, formed part of a search party, and the next day, Erin was found to have died after her car crashed, upside down, in a local pond. Wedding plans were replaced by funeral plans. What happened, the author says, remains a mystery, but police reported that that the car likely skidded down an icy hill before flipping over. For the next five years, the author researched the details of her daughter’s life, and she offers a sort of scrapbook in this volume, which features plenty of black-and-white photos of Erin and her family members. Erin’s journal writings spoke of her growing Catholic faith, and the author recognized that that she now had to “walk the talk about the afterlife I claimed to have believed in all those years.” The book shows that when someone young dies suddenly, it has great effects on those around them, especially in a tight-knit college community; Erin’s alma mater, Assumption College, created a memorial garden for her. It’s hard not to feel for the author, who writes that she waited a long time to give birth to her only child, and she shows how much she wants the world to know her. Specifically, Rodriques says, she made it her mission to get Erin’s writing about faith into the world, and in that, she is successful. Some of the book’s content will appeal most to people who knew Erin personally. However, anyone who’s lost someone will be able to relate to the author’s search for signs from her deceased daughter.

An earnest remembrance that will be most appropriate for readers trying to strengthen their religious faith after the death of a loved one.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-72832-369-5

Page Count: 214

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

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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 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 very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.


A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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