A laconic, beautiful, and deeply insightful account about coping with loss.



A memoir explores creativity, friendship, and lifelong trauma.

Browning (The Castoff Children, 2016, etc.) opens her book far from her New England home. She has traveled to Cimarron Valley, New Mexico. Her reasons are undisclosed but she finds herself transfixed by a female buffalo spotted near the roadside. Buffaloes are a symbol of sacrifice and the author ponders “ineffable things—of what it is to sacrifice all of one’s self, of grief, and gratitude.” Such links between the self and wild nature, between in-your-face reality and intangible truth, wind through Browning’s short work. She pans back to a year earlier and a lonely, painful miscarriage: twins. She didn’t tell her partner but “confessed” to her friend Mallory months later. The miscarriage was the “latest blow” in a life of physical, emotional, and psychological trauma. The author doesn’t dwell on details but says, “I had reached a point where I could no longer function.” She was diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and Mild Dissociative Disorder but inept therapy only deepened the condition. On Mallory’s advice, the two began a Christmastime road trip heading west, stopping in Taos, New Mexico, at the “honest” home of Mallory’s friends. Through nature, friendship, simplicity, and time, Browning felt “something was starting after years of things ending.” But she does not learn to let go of her suffering and trauma. Rather, she learns to carry it, own it. She loosely ties this idea with other writings on trauma and nature but her memoir as a whole is so uniquely personal, it reads almost as an offering. She tells her painful and revealing story, as many brave memoirists have done. But Browning gives much more. She chooses words with a poet’s economy and a naturalist’s eye for beauty. She includes her own black-and-white photography of the Cimarron buffaloes and the New Mexico and Colorado wilderness. Her stark, crisp landscapes fit the mood and theme of the book. And she deftly places her moving tale—her “small contribution”—within the vast panorama of this isolating digital age. The author believes the next frontier of creativity is not just telling bigger, more shocking stories but “humble baring,” a sacrifice of sorts, that brings people together despite and because of their brokenness.

A laconic, beautiful, and deeply insightful account about coping with loss.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947003-90-3

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Little Bound Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2018

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?

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


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

Did you like this book?