An engaging cannabis-infused metanovel about stoning your way to God.

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EDGE OF THE KINGDOM

A MIND AND HEART ALTERING INTERACTIVE NOVEL

A novel about faith, spiritual enlightenment, and marijuana.

In his fiction debut, Walker reveals that he was given a medical diagnosis of severe bipolar disorder and characterizes himself as a “bipolar stoner” who uses drugs to touch “the fire” that is his consciousness. He presents an “interactive novel” in which readers are given cues in parentheses that serve as prompts for deepening their enjoyment of the narrative, like playing a certain kind of song (Blinded by the Light, for instance, either by Bruce Springsteen or Manfred Mann, your choice). The crucial prompt, at the center of the book, is to smoke marijuana. The author suggests this not only enhances the reading experience, but also, as the unfolding narrative makes clear, deepens the spiritual experience of the work. The book’s thin plot revolves around a young two-tour Afghanistan veteran named Jack who visits a strip club with friends George and Dale. He meets a stripper named Trinity, and in a series of long after-hours conversations—in a diner, at a beach house—she details an elaborate philosophical worldview. Some ideas are standard-issue New Age pabulum, like when she tells Jack that all religions are right about their views on God (“They all basically preach the same idea, just in different languages, customs, and traditions”), and all are intensified by using marijuana. She refers to weed as “a wonderful gift from God” that hyperstimulates the pineal gland and allows users to achieve a oneness with God that would otherwise require a lifetime of dietary changes and personal discipline. Through a combination of sexual allure and drug use, Trinity opens Jack’s eyes to wider realities, and Walker is often a deft enough hand at what is in many ways an old-fashioned didactic novel (his ear for dialogue, for instance, is at times quite good) to make it all interesting.

An engaging cannabis-infused metanovel about stoning your way to God.

Pub Date: April 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5434-1566-7

Page Count: 130

Publisher: XlibrisUS

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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