An inspirational memoir undermined by messy writing.

A Journey to God's Grace

A debut spiritual autobiography reflects on a life of challenging trials.

After she suffered an injury that compelled her to take time off from work, Shepherd was inspired to write an account of her life, which was plagued by adversity. At a young age, she was preoccupied with philosophical questions regarding the nature of her existence, and during a lonely childhood she sought refuge in a precocious spiritual calling. In her early teens, Shepherd would spend afternoons in her mother’s closet devoted to prayer; it was well known that if you wanted to find her, that’s where you looked. Later, she moved to Boston to stay with her grandmother because she was an avid churchgoer, but the author was discomfited by her church’s moral libertinism. Shepherd became pregnant, and had no choice but to return home to New York; her father then died only a month after she arrived. The remainder of her adult life was marred by unrelenting travails: her baby’s father refused to accept responsibility for his child, and Shepherd was reduced to seeking welfare. She became pregnant a second time, and her older sister forced her to have an abortion (the precise nature of the coercion is never clear). A nefarious pastor tried to arrange an ill-conceived relationship for her. Her house burned down; she was involved in a physically debilitating car accident; and her son was sent to jail for life for a crime she says he did not commit. Through it all, she found strength and solace in her faith, and the entire account is dotted with references to the Bible, with brief reflections on scattered passages. The author’s optimism is both inexhaustible and inspiring, and every page is a testament to her religious tenacity. But the prose is muddled and confusing, and often riddled with typographical and grammatical errors: “A good parent will love their child regards to their many of mistakes, I want say that that when they continue to disobey our words and rules that we are happy, but we try whatever it will take to make things right with that child and sometimes, we get side track, because the weight seems so hard, that you may find it more easier, to just throw in the towel.” As a result, the book is often difficult to understand, and the timeline of events presented remains obscure.

An inspirational memoir undermined by messy writing.

Pub Date: June 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5127-4525-2

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 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 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

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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