Soul-searching has never been more comprehensive.

THE BOOK OF HELP

A MEMOIR IN REMEDIES

An exploration of the lengths we will go to heal.

There are countless books on New Age subjects, from studies on chakras and dream incubation to manifestos on psychometry. Griswold’s debut is in that vein, as she provides an exhaustive look at alternative treatments, but wrapped up in that narrative is a personal tale about her own quest to find comfort and healing from the scars of her youth and the tragedy of her divorce after her husband was caught soliciting a prostitute. Somehow, the author managed to find some humor in her situation, and she positions her sarcasm well with the book’s format. Each chapter begins with a breakdown of the remedy she’s seeking. For instance, in Chapter 10, Griswold documents her attendance of an “About Sex Seminar” at age 15. Under subheads, she summarizes the concept before diving into the actual treatment: “Equipment Needed: The seminar leader has a manual in front of the room. This is one manual I’d like to get my hands on. Employment: My job making Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls on Balboa Island doesn’t cover the tuition. Cost: $225. Humiliation Factor: Warming up.” But how did a 15-year-old become a regular at self-help talks, sex seminars, and personal growth workshops? The answer lies in her Christian Scientist family’s fascination with New Age theologies—Griswold asked for her own mantra at age 7—and her parents’ efforts to mend their own marriage with various therapies. Of course, both marriages—Griswold’s and her parents’—fell apart, and those losses are at the heart of the author’s quest to find some sense of recovery with everything from Vipassana meditation retreats to stick therapy to an ayahuasca tea treatment, which made her vomit for hours. As remedies, the results were decidedly mixed, but vicariously living them through her telling makes for a fascinating book.

Soul-searching has never been more comprehensive.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63565-220-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Rodale

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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