A pensive and empathetic spiritual memoir.


As Sparks Fly Upwards


Carr discusses maintaining faith through tribulation in this debut Christian memoir.

The Book of Job says that “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward,” and it is with Job in mind that Carr offers this account of how he dealt with his life’s trials. An architect and Pentecostal bishop, the author was married for 54 years to his wife, Patricia, who suffered for most of that time from myasthenia gravis, a rare muscular disease. The decades of sickness, he says, gave her many moments of frustration and doubt. They also, at times, shook Carr’s own faith: “I just wait for the next thunderbolt to fall,” he wrote in an article for a Pentecostal magazine, “knowing that the present pain is so great that a little more will not matter. I’m crumbling inside, and all the vain platitudes from fellow saints are the mouthing of cold comfort.” For Carr and his wife, though, faith always returned—sometimes, he says, due to direct communication from God. The author uses these moments of epiphany, supplemented with Bible stories, anecdotes, and allegories from history and popular culture to present the case for faith, even during times when believing seems impossible. It’s one thing to have a formal creed—a nominal religion that one follows and relates to in an abstract or academic way—but the author calls for readers to pursue a living creed, celebrating and affirming one’s faith with one’s actions. Overall, Carr is a thoughtful, practiced writer, and he depicts his wife’s condition and its accompanying difficulties in a way that will move any reader, regardless of his or her religious beliefs. His spiritual message is strongly Christian, although it’s not as dogmatic or incurious as other authors who’ve sought to make similar arguments. Christian readers who sometimes find themselves insecure in their faith will likely take comfort in Carr’s words; he and his wife truly suffered in myriad ways, but he asserts that they managed to remain believers, due to their commitment to a living creed.

A pensive and empathetic spiritual memoir.

Pub Date: July 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-3054-6

Page Count: 226

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016

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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 timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.


An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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