A slim, personal debut that extols a pragmatic, hands-on Christianity.


People Have Problems and I Can Do Something About It

Hullett offers a brief message of encouragement to Christians to act out the charity of their faith.

An energetic, conscientious mode of service to others is at the heart of the author’s nonfiction debut, which combines a light sampling of autobiography with broader exhortations of the Christian mindset, all centered on the theme of helping others. Hullett mentions his time as a youth pastor in Texas and Missouri, for instance, but he mainly concentrates on the obligations that Christians inherit from their faith. Even though God’s gifts are unconditional, he maintains, “He does ask something of us”: to enact the lessons of the Gospels, and specifically the writings of St. Paul, by serving others. Hullett argues that the Bible lays out this life course in detail for those with the insight and energy to decipher it; its text, he writes, is “like a football player’s playbook, it will not help us if we do not study it.” His emphasis is not only on charity and fellow-feeling, but also on preparing oneself to serve, rather than doing so blindly: “If you want to do something about our world’s problems,” he insists, “learn by reading, studying, watching, and listening!” Hullett does an engaging job of mixing his scriptural quotes with passages from popular business writers, such as Zig Ziglar, and he buttresses his points about Christian service with his own illustrations from the business world. Some readers may find that the examples don’t always serve the book’s larger points so well, as when the author writes that “Chick-fil-A employers look for this attitude of genuine concern in the people they hire.” (That restaurant chain’s owner has said that gay marriage invites “God’s judgment on our nation.”) But when Hullett urges his readers to have “an attitude of gratitude” and reminds them that “What we do is a result of who we are,” he brings home a message about practical faith that Christian readers will doubtless appreciate.

A slim, personal debut that extols a pragmatic, hands-on Christianity.

Pub Date: July 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5127-4686-0

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2016

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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 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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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