As refreshingly southern and satisfying as a cool glass of iced tea.

LIFE: BE THERE AT TEN 'TIL

A COLLECTION OF HOMEGROWN WISDOMS

With all the charm of Robert Fulghum, screenwriter Johnson spins a few yarns, shares a few vignettes and offers a variety of commendable life lessons.

Johnson was raised in rural South Carolina, a place where the difference between Baptists and Methodists matters; where people call soda “Co-Cola,” never Coke (or, God forbid, Pepsi); where Conway, S.C. is considered a metropolitan area. As a child he was taught to appreciate the simple things in life, and he learned the importance of hard work and community–not to mention good food. Indeed, the story is redolent with fine Southern cuisine: country ham, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, pecan pie, banana pudding and more. Not just a paean to home cooking, Johnson has also crafted a loving ode to his parents–his dignified, selfless mother and his inquisitive, loving father–who raised him right. At the end of the day, he can barely remember the four-star restaurants he’s visited as an adult, but he has lasting memories of the simple meals he enjoyed with his family at the IHOP. Also enlightening is the author’s take-no-prisoners critique of contemporary communication technology–cell phones, caller ID, email. We may use these gizmos to facilitate relationships with our loved ones, he says, but in reality, we hide behind them. In fact, says Johnson, we now live in a throw-away culture where we casually discard whatever seems inconvenient, whether “Styrofoam or marriage.” Compared to the homey, comfortable world of Johnson’s childhood, today’s cell phone landscape seems bleak. He concludes the final chapter by acknowledging that we all just get through life “the best damn way [we] can.” Good advice for anyone, and Johnson’s musings offer soothing companionship along the way.

As refreshingly southern and satisfying as a cool glass of iced tea.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58348-232-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...

EVERYTHING IS F*CKED

A BOOK ABOUT HOPE

The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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