A stimulating reassessment of a key section of the Bible coupled with an affecting memoir.

EVEN THE MONSTERS

LIVING WITH GRIEF, LOSS, AND DEPRESSION

An autobiographical/spiritual work offers a new interpretation of the meaning of the book of Job, considered from the perspective of the author’s own personal tribulations.

At the prompting of his friend Jamie, a preacher, Potter embarked on a study of the book of Job, a project he had no idea at the time would last more than 20 years. His interpretation is a combination of scholarly exegesis and deeply personal reflection, a poignant attempt to overcome the “unacceptable divide” between the two, a source of abiding miscomprehension. According to the author, the “Standard View” looks at Job’s suffering as the consequence of moral transgression. He must have sinned in order to warrant such a catastrophe, and, as a result, the proper response to him is judgment, a tidy analysis of both his travails and the cosmos in which they occur: “The Standard View promised programmable predictability to the cosmos: know what makes God tick, and you can get him to sing and dance at will. The implication for Job was that, since things had gone horribly wrong for him, he was obviously guilty of some horrible crime and therefore needed to put things straight with God.” But Potter contends that the real lesson is that the world—and the pain it contains—may ultimately be inscrutable, though God’s love for all is imperishable. To an impressively searching tour of Job’s “journey through spiritual alienation, personal desperation, and deep depression,” the author pairs an admirably candid account of his own struggles, focusing on the terrifying “combination of rare conditions” that ravaged his daughter’s health and the emotional toll it took on his marriage. Potter writes with unfailing clarity and confessional power—his interpretation of Job is profoundly informed by both rigorous study and thoughtful, personal meditation. The author doesn’t simply implore readers to lean on the Bible for moral counsel and encouragement—he furnishes an illustrative example of how this can be done.

A stimulating reassessment of a key section of the Bible coupled with an affecting memoir.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77755-786-7

Page Count: 490

Publisher: Paper Stone Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2022

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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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A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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