A sentimental but often captivating New Age tribute to the soulfulness of animals.

UNSPOKEN MESSAGES

SPIRITUAL LESSONS I LEARNED FROM HORSES AND OTHER EARTHBOUND SOULS

Intimations of immortality flow from life on a horse farm in this passionate debut memoir.

Rowland boarded and trained horses on his Kentucky farm, and he discusses the intense emotional ties he formed with animals there. Pride of place goes to equines like Buffy, “an old soul in a horse body,” who injured herself and was put down, and Pal, a horse so beloved by all that Rowland glimpsed the ghost of Pal’s former owner visiting him. Other companions whom he mourns include Whiskers, a barn cat, and Sarge, a golden retriever. Both “crossed over the rainbow bridge” to await reunion with him in the afterlife. Even a passing bee conveyed a message: Rowland stroked the bee after it landed on him and received “an intense feeling of peace and love for the world.” Rowland sets these stories against his own narrative of spiritual awakening amid health crises, including multiple myeloma. He presents a harsh but conflicted critique of Western medicine, blaming much of his ill health on drugs with toxic side effects. He prefers alternative medicine, including treatments he got from a naturopath, a reiki practitioner, and a psychic, and he recommends an organic diet, rigorously filtered water, meditation, and using the Law of Attraction, which helps him avoid red lights while driving. Rowland’s evocative prose brings animals and their antics to life—the slobbery Sarge was “the farm greeter, which is like being a Wal-Mart greeter only wetter”—while drawing larger lessons from them. Some of these scenes can seem glib—“What is supposed to happen will happen, one way or another,” he concludes after rescuing a chipmunk from Whiskers only to watch the rodent escape and unwittingly run back into the cat’s clutches—but other are deeply felt and moving. “Her eyes once again went to mine ever so briefly,” he writes of Buffy’s death vigil, “as if to tell me she knew and she understood her time in this physical world was coming to an end. Then she called to Peanut, and in that soft murmuring sound mares only make to their foals, she apparently said her good-byes.” Readers who have felt a bond with an animal will appreciate Rowland’s experiences.

A sentimental but often captivating New Age tribute to the soulfulness of animals.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4525-8427-0

Page Count: 222

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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

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GREENLIGHTS

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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