FIRST, WE MAKE THE BEAST BEAUTIFUL

A NEW JOURNEY THROUGH ANXIETY

Those who endure anxiety will find Wilson’s thoughtful, often funny self-analysis to be just the right companion and...

An affecting memoir of coping with anxiety over a busy lifetime.

“I am anxious often,” writes Australian TV journalist Wilson (I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook, 2014). “But it’s kept in check if I don’t get anxious about being anxious.” In a pleasantly meandering narrative that mixes what the author characterizes as “polemic, didactic and memoir,” she ticks off a long list of the many afflictions that she’s suffered: depression, hypomania, bipolar disorder, bulimia, insomnia, and, ever since childhood, anxiety. In response to them, she writes, she’s tried about everything, from various chemical amelioratives to neurolinguistic programming, Freudian psychotherapy, and even “sand play.” All of those illnesses, she avers, were variations on the same theme: anxiety, pure and simple. And she’s not alone; even though anxiety wasn’t classified as a mental disorder until 1980, as many as 1 in 6 people in the First World suffer from it, and men in particular suffer from anxiety in greater numbers than from depression. The developed-world part is important, since Wilson later wonders whether anxiety may not be a bourgeois sort of problem. In whatever instance, she observes, the whole business is a mess: “Anxiety…it’s befuddling and clusterfucky for everyone involved.” Having sorted through what she can, the author then looks into various things that she’s tried to deploy in order to ward off anxiety, from taking a long walk to trying to declutter a mental lifestyle that, as she memorably puts it, requires us to “keep multiple tabs open in our brains, which sees us toggle back and forth between tasks and commitments and thoughts. And all of it competes. And it clusters. And down we go in a hyper-tabbed tangle.” Small wonder that she quietly hints that it may be time to try a few psychedelics.

Those who endure anxiety will find Wilson’s thoughtful, often funny self-analysis to be just the right companion and affirmation.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-283678-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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