A self-help guide that offers a lifestyle plan based on a 118-year-old poem.
The famous 1897 Edwin Arlington Robinson poem “Richard Cory” provides an unconventional springboard for Corey’s nonfiction debut about “maintaining a positive belief in yourself and in your dream.” In Robinson’s much-anthologized work, the outwardly successful title character, who “glittered when he walked,” appears to be the envy of all the townspeople until the final line when he “Went home and put a bullet in his head.” But whereas Robinson seemingly intended the poem to be a wry commentary on the illusory nature of popularity, Corey interestingly envisions it as a great metaphor for human self-improvement, which he relates to seven immutable cosmic “laws.” The book’s first part consists of a law school seminar paper that the author wrote in which he styles Richard Cory as the embodiment of the American dream. In it, he reimagines the character as a billionaire, a lawyer, and devoutly religious, preaching not only faith in God but faith in self. The book’s second part elaborates on the first, taking the form of Richard Cory’s inner journal and presenting the “blueprint” of the title. It goes on to address such elemental questions as “What drives human behavior?” and “Why do people act in certain ways?” by referencing the aforementioned seven basic laws of creation, such as the law of rhythm, which states that “everything has a cycle,” and the law of gestation, which states that “everything takes time to manifest.” The steps by which Cory moves from these laws to standard self-help nuggets such as, “From now on, I swear to myself that I will disregard limits. I will practice what I preach and preach what I practice,” is never very clear, though, and the enthusiastic invocation of feel-good gurus such as Oprah Winfrey and Rhonda Byrne (author of the 2006 best-seller The Secret) don’t clarify matters. Readers will likely find the author’s highly imaginative deconstruction and reconstruction of the beloved old poem the most rewarding part of the book.
A fairly conventional self-improvement outline with an intriguing poetic twist.