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SHAPES OF TRUTH

DISCOVER GOD INSIDE YOU

An intriguing but uneven spiritual manual.

A guide calls for finding the divine by looking within.

Although Allen flatly says that his work is about God, he quickly clarifies this assertion. “I don’t care what your religion is, and I don’t care if you’re an atheist,” he writes. “None of that has any bearing on what I’ll cover in this book.” Oddly, he then immediately moves on to claiming that there exists, hidden in the body of every human, a set of 35 “embodied concepts that describe qualities of God.” According to the author, these qualities include things like strength, nourishment, vulnerability, identity, space, gratitude, and an array of different kinds of love: personal love, passionate love, universal love, “merging” love, and so on. Each of these, Allen explains, is “a way of seeing the divine in everyday life” and setting about answering so-called big questions like “Who am I? What’s God? What will it be like to die?” The author sees these embodied concepts as essentially physical manifestations. Imagine, he asks his readers, that you’re in the presence of somebody who’s suffering, and instead of feeling your response as “compassion,” you find “a soft brick sitting inside your upper chest cavity, glowing emerald green, tender to the touch and bringing tears to your eyes.” In his ambitious guide, Allen describes each of these “thirty-five issues and their corresponding divine body-forms” in ways that readers of spiritualist/New Age literature will find comforting, inspiring, and predictable. In addition, his narrative style is easy and readable throughout the earnest work. But those not already onboard may become perplexed, and the confusion will start virtually on Page 1, with Allen’s contention that his intensely religion-saturated book doesn’t care whether or not a reader is, for instance, an atheist. They may also question his contention that all of his 35 concepts are actually real, scientifically verifiable, physical components, including gratitude.
An intriguing but uneven spiritual manual.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-578-83908-0

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Pearl Publications

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2021

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GREENLIGHTS

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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