A nontraditional but effective memoir about one woman’s discovery of spiritualism.

EMBODYING SOUL

A RETURN TO WHOLENESS: A MEMOIR OF NEW BEGINNINGS

In the debut remembrance, a wife, mother, and businesswoman’s search for truth leads her to explore two planes of existence.

Mangis begins her book by describing a place called the “Soul Realm,” a “well-organized airport” full of souls that’s part of an endless cycle of reincarnation. The author’s alter ego, Serene Voyager, or “Sëri,” waits here with her guide and “soul friend” Rasa, and they reflect on the truths of life and the uses and limitations of anger and religion. They’re joined by Sëri’s personal, motivational wolf companion Endless Curiosity, or “Curiosa.” In the “Earth Realm,” Curiosa becomes a companion to the author, along with anthropomorphic versions of Fear, Guilt, and Shame. Mangis tells of how she was born in Fargo, North Dakota, in 1972 to emotionally undemonstrative parents, and how she grew to have a voracious appetite for books. She recounts her first encounters with Rasa and Curiosa, and how they shaped her; she went from being a reserved, bookish girl to an accomplished runner in high school, a social butterfly in college, and a successful insurance businesswoman. She eventually found love and became a mother of two. She struggled with anxiety and depression, as well as with Fear and Guilt; her panic and restlessness led her to pursue therapy and the spiritual aspects of yoga practice. Mangis’ use of the speculative Soul Realm is a bold decision that will make some readers question the book’s classification as a memoir. Most characters are Keri’s feelings, with a few noteworthy exceptions, such as her husband and people at work. She recounts a largely solemn, lonely existence, but she also excellently captures the torment of anxiety and depression in these pages. A stark conversation about rape and consent, reflected in the author’s experiences, provides a moving turning point. The Soul Realm could have had the potential to alienate readers, but it’s grounded by the inclusion of real-world objects and concepts, such as libraries, landscape painting, and Post-its. The author’s principal goal is to inform, and the book becomes a kind of self-help guide that encourages intuition, communication, and letting go.

A nontraditional but effective memoir about one woman’s discovery of spiritualism.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 285

Publisher: Curiosa Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2019

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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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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