A kaleidoscopic fever dream of ideas, idolatry, and lots of drugs: uniquely produced and curiously intoxicating.

TRIP

PSYCHEDELICS, ALIENATION, AND CHANGE

A drug-soaked excursion through addiction, psychedelics, and fascination with a visionary psychonaut.

In his first full-length nonfiction book, Taiwanese novelist and poet Lin (Taipei, 2013, etc.) probes deep to expose his struggles with drug addiction and isolating depression, two suffocating encumbrances that threatened to extinguish his artistic creativity and even his life. In this peculiar yet addictive patchwork of memoir, biography, and meditative self-analysis, the author explores how studying pro-psychedelic mystic Terence McKenna (1946-2000) liberated him from an amphetamine, psilocybin mushroom, and opiate-fueled “zombielike” state while finishing the final draft of his previous novel. Lin’s fixation with McKenna forms the core of the narrative and the center around which a lot of his life-altering revelations are based. The author briskly escorts readers through McKenna’s nomadic life as a self-proclaimed “hardheaded rationalist,” and he explores his visions, public talks, and imaginative interpretations with encyclopedic thoroughness. Both Lin and McKenna shared a preoccupation with psychedelics, but the author’s own drug history also encompassed Adderall, methadone, MDMA, and opiates. Lin’s depiction of his magic mushroom and DMT trips are strikingly vivid. Over time and with varied use, those two psychoactive indulgences proved the most intensely transformative for both Lin and McKenna. Lin coherently challenges the sense behind labeling psychedelics as controlled substances, agreeing with McKenna’s declaration that the government made them illegal because they dissolve “opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.” Lin also writes thoughtfully about cannabis, “the plant I’ve had the closest relationship with so far in my life.” A decade after McKenna succumbed to cancer, Lin visited his guru’s former wife, which he recounts in a bizarre epilogue that is as buzzed, foggy, meandering, and eccentric as the rest of this unconventional memoir.

A kaleidoscopic fever dream of ideas, idolatry, and lots of drugs: uniquely produced and curiously intoxicating.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-97451-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

NIGHT

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

Did you like this book?

more