by Tom Henderson ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 28, 2011
Readers who see spiritual perfection as a journey, rather than a destination, will appreciate Henderson as a fellow traveler.
An exhaustive spiritual journey unspooled in free verse, short prose and original artwork.
An assemblage of 17 chapbook-length collections, this massive volume intimidates by its dimensions and heft alone; however, once inside, readers will find accessible poetry that invites browsing rather than marathon reading sessions. Thanks in large part to the endlessly recursive nature of the poetry, there’s not a best place to start or finish. In fact, the image of spindled time perfectly captures the experience of encountering Henderson’s cosmic tome, as he circles a central, eternal mystery, sometimes spiraling in and sometimes flying around. This rhythmic alternation of inward and outward focus is one of Henderson’s persistent themes, introduced in the prologue—“Looking outward, at my world, / I observed the constant changes around me, / Peering inward, I analyzed / My own shifting feelings”—and revisited frequently, most memorably in several examples of concrete poetry featuring spirals and waves. Elsewhere, various narrators on numerous “paths” and “journeys” invariably learn how much they do not yet know. In Blakean fashion, Henderson strives to deconstruct the tension of man simultaneously seeing himself as “the image of perfection” and as a “mere, and mortal, fool.” Wisdom, he suggests, lies in unifying both visions, often via paradox. In “The Flight of the Spirit,” for instance, the narrator laments, “I have searched for an escape. / But, death comes to all. / Escape then, is inevitable. / Life is short.” After further contemplation, however, he instead concludes that “chains are loosened by death. / The soul drifts into the freedom / Of eternity, / Forever has no end / If death is short / And life is everlasting.” For all its lofty philosophical inquiries, Henderson’s poetry is generally unadorned, marked by plain speech and the occasional simple rhyme scheme. Because the mystic nature of these revelations is likely to confound reason, the mind can be slow to believe. After enough repetitions, the contemplation could descend into navel-gazing, so reading in small doses may be the best approach.Readers who see spiritual perfection as a journey, rather than a destination, will appreciate Henderson as a fellow traveler.
Pub Date: April 28, 2011
Page Count: 672
Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2013
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Robert Greene ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1998
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
Page Count: 430
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Matthew McConaughey ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 20, 2020
A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020
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