An idiosyncratic recollection of travel, photography, and the Hare Krishna movement.

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Five Years, Eleven Months and a Lifetime of Unexpected Love

A MEMOIR

Dasi (Harmony and the Bhagavad-gita, 2015, etc.) recounts her spiritual awakening in India in this memoir.

Dasi (née Jean Papert) was studying photography as an undergraduate in Rochester, New York, when she met and fell in love with a photojournalism graduate student named John Griesser. She followed Griesser to India, where he was completing a project on the Hare Krishna movement. Dasi’s initial impressions of the country were less than ecstatic. “The moment I looked out the window at Bombay’s international airport,” she recalls, “the term ‘third-world’ shed its mystery.” Soon, however, the beauty of the landscape and the deep spiritual history of its peoples began to pull on Dasi and Griesser both. Over the course of their Hare Krishna project, which kept them in the close company of the movement’s charismatic founder, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the couple became enamored of the guru’s teachings. The world of ashrams and devotees was highly distinct from the Long Island of Dasi’s youth. For the first time, she felt she was surrounded by people “who harmonized their lives with a higher purpose, who chose to control their minds, who were not at the mercy of passion, who were striving for something pure and great.” This book is an account of Dasi’s and Griesser’s gradual conversion to the teachings of the Hare Krishna, set against the backdrop of the dynamic India of the early 1970s. The text is accompanied with brilliant photographs the couple took during that time, which lovingly frame the country as a place of great devotion. Dasi is a talented writer, particularly when it comes to documenting the specifics of places and people. Like the photographs, her descriptions are lyrical and evocative while remaining rooted in impoverished reality. Her transformation from Krishna skeptic to devotee is somewhat unsettling, particularly for secular readers who are more sympathetic to the author’s initial critiques of the faith. As a firsthand account of Prabhupada and his movement, however, the book is quite informative, and it should appeal to any readers curious about the Hare Krishnas or modern Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

An idiosyncratic recollection of travel, photography, and the Hare Krishna movement.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2016

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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