An engrossing case for rebooting one’s system through extreme experiences.

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THE WEDGE

EVOLUTION, CONSCIOUSNESS, STRESS, AND THE KEY TO HUMAN RESILIENCE

A far-out exploration of neurophysiological life hacks.

In his previous book, investigative journalist Carney (What Doesn’t Kill Us, 2017, etc.) offered an account of fitness guru Wim Hof’s unorthodox program of breathing exercises and exposure to intense cold. Here, the author examines an expanded concept that he calls “the Wedge,” involving a variety of uncomfortable or unsettling regimens that disrupt one’s climate-controlled routines and foster more creative and healthy responses to stress. He revisits breathing exercises and ice-water baths, which he credits with curing his own autoimmunity-related mouth cankers, and endures agonizing heat in a broiling sauna, which he says cleanses his mind; saunas could also be useful, studies suggest, in alleviating depression. Drugs, he writes, are a multifaceted Wedge; he took Ecstasy with his wife and resolved thorny marital issues in a blissful rapture, thus achieving the equivalent of “eight months of weekly [couples] therapy in just the course of two or three hours,” and drank a Peruvian shaman’s hallucinogenic ayahuasca brew, which initiated a psychedelic trance that, he says, ended his addiction to video games. He also lost five pounds on the “Potato Hack,” a blandly filling all-potato diet that, he asserts, severs the link between hunger and instinctual noshing on tasty food. Carney deftly explains the biological and neurological bases for these unusual nostrums, and the book is full of intriguing research findings about links between the brain, the body, and the environment. (Neurotic anxiety, he writes, may be caused by faulty chemoreceptors in the brain that overreact to carbon dioxide—a universal trigger for panic.) His mystical effusions on the oneness of all being—“I was the mountain…the partition between the environment and what happens inside us is an illusion,” he rhapsodizes when climbing, bare-chested, to Kilimanjaro’s snowy summit—are less cogent, and his idea that “evolution seeks to preserve experience” will baffle evolutionary theorists. Carney sometimes sounds like a spiritual seeker, but his evocative prose and knack for scientific exposition make his urge to transcend the self by pushing his mind and body to their limits seem thrilling and sensible.

An engrossing case for rebooting one’s system through extreme experiences.

Pub Date: April 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73419-430-2

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Foxtopus Ink

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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