AFTER EDEN

A LOVE STORY

A passionate memoir of love, loss and grief.

Just as Dr. Surman and his wife, Lezlie, are about to send their youngest child off to college, Lezlie is diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. She immediately undergoes major surgery to assess and combat the damage the disease has wrought. A psychiatrist who often counsels patients and families suffering catastrophic illnesses, Dr. Surman suddenly finds himself in an unfamilar role in a scenario with which he is all too familiar. Reeling from the revelation that his heretofore vibrant soul mate could die, he becomes embarrassed as his mind careens through fantasies of what his life might be like after her death. At the same time, he is beset by longing for the early years of their relationship. Though he marshals all of his medical expertise and that of his colleagues, the disease and a series of serious complications continue to take their toll on his beloved wife, who finally succumbs after a seven-month battle. Following her death, Dr. Surman struggles with his overwhelming loneliness, and he worries about his children’s ability to cope with the loss of their mother. After Eden marries the doctor’s professional insight with his sensitivity as a husband and father, creating a moving, forthright tale of surviving the loss of a life partner. Weaving observations from the present into his memories of the painful past, he reflects on how his experience has made him a better counselor to those facing grave illness or the loss of a loved one. In sharing his tears, as well as the torrent of untidy emotions involved in such grief–even those that could be perceived as embarrassing or selfish–Dr. Surman’s memoir may provide relief to those struggling with a similar state of sorrow.

Heartfelt and poignant.

Pub Date: July 28, 2005

ISBN: 0-595-35917-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Honest messages from one of America's best known women.

WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE

A compilation of advice from the Queen of All Media.

After writing a column for 14 years titled “What I Know For Sure” for O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Winfrey brings together the highlights into one gift-ready collection. Grouped into themes like Joy, Resilience, Connection, Gratitude, Possibility, Awe, Clarity and Power, each short essay is the distilled thought of a woman who has taken the time to contemplate her life’s journey thus far. Whether she is discussing traveling across the country with her good friend, Gayle, the life she shares with her dogs or building a fire in the fireplace, Winfrey takes each moment and finds the good in it, takes pride in having lived it and embraces the message she’s received from that particular time. Through her actions and her words, she shows readers how she's turned potentially negative moments into life-enhancing experiences, how she's found bliss in simple pleasures like a perfectly ripe peach, and how she's overcome social anxiety to become part of a bigger community. She discusses the yo-yo dieting, exercise and calorie counting she endured for almost two decades as she tried to modify her physical body into something it was not meant to be, and how one day she decided she needed to be grateful for each and every body part: "This is the body you've been given—love what you've got." Since all of the sections are brief and many of the essays are only a couple paragraphs long—and many members of the target audience will have already read them in the magazine—they are best digested in short segments in order to absorb Winfrey's positive and joyful but repetitive message. The book also features a new introduction by the author.

Honest messages from one of America's best known women.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1250054050

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Flatiron View Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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