A fast-paced and boisterously readable assemblage of true stories.

WHO NEEDS HEAVEN?

TRUE STORIES

A memoir offers vignettes from an entire lifetime.

In his latest work of nonfiction, Binder looks back on his life and renders several incidents and themes in a series of autobiographical stories. The author has led a picaresque life, with many adventures and crises, and he’s inserted many of these escapades into the entertaining, touching, and often enlightening tales arranged in these pages. He takes readers back to his childhood, painting affectionate portraits of the many people who influenced him while he was growing up. Binder includes a particularly memorable remembrance of his mother, who was felled by a serious stroke that robbed her of her speech (“Visiting her in the human warehouse they call a hospital, I’d point to letters of the alphabet printed on a card and she would blink to spell the word she wanted to convey”). He also gives readers a captivating, behind-the-scenes look at the famous child evangelist Marjoe Gortner. Binder worked on the crew that produced the Academy Award–winning 1972 documentary about Gortner’s illusion-dispelling revival tour, in which he exposed the deceits of his childhood ministry. The author watched all of this up close and relates it with enthusiasm and sympathy. (Sometimes a touch too much sympathy, since at one point even Binder seems convinced by the enthusiasm of the crowd: “I don’t believe in magic, nor do I believe in God, but I do believe in miracles. I witnessed one.”) Whether he’s recalling partying with Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson in Las Brisas, Texas, or recounting the fracas he and his partner got into in 1966 at the Albany Convention Center when Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was speaking (“Reporters grabbed at our feet trying to trip us up and bring us down. They failed. I was exhilarated”), the author has clearly told most of these tales many times in his life. These written versions are fine-tuned to perfection and provide a large and constantly moving banquet of intriguing moments.

A fast-paced and boisterously readable assemblage of true stories.

Pub Date: March 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9998695-5-0

Page Count: 363

Publisher: F-Stop Books

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2020

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An inspiring chronicle of a search for healing.

NOWHERE FOR VERY LONG

THE UNEXPECTED ROAD TO AN UNCONVENTIONAL LIFE

An emotionally wounded woman chooses a wild life.

In September 2016, Madia and her boyfriend—and soon, husband—decided to give up their Salt Lake City apartment and live in an old, rusted van, unheated, uninsulated, freezing in winter and suffocatingly hot in summer, which they affectionately named Bertha. They eventually added “a homemade shower, a roof box, bike rack, and solar panels,” making it look “like something out of a Mad Max movie.” Along with two energetic dogs, they roamed the west in a vehicle that repeatedly, and frustratingly, broke down in the middle of nowhere. In her candid debut memoir, Madia reveals her “curiously deep-seated need to be against,” which led her to embrace a decidedly unconventional life. Born and raised in a middle-class neighborhood situated between a wealthy Connecticut suburb and blighted Bridgeport, she grew up “at the center of shame and guilt and money and status.” She was rebelling, though, against more than consumerism and conformity. By the time she was in high school, her father had gone to rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. After he cheated on her mother, her parents divorced, and she didn’t hear from him for years. In college, she became so depressed she was suicidal. “Perhaps it was the loss of so much that made me want so little,” she reflects. “The less I had, the less I’d have to inevitably part with.” Settling into a house, having a family, even holding a stable job felt constricting: “Fear and curiosity. Those, to me, became the essentials of being alive.” Madia describes in visceral detail the near disasters that she experienced, the horrific accident that nearly killed one of the dogs, and her evolution into an Instagram personality that gave her an audience eager for stories of her adventures. In social media, she finally found the validation and appreciation she longed for: “I loved being someone other women looked up to.”

An inspiring chronicle of a search for healing.

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-063-04798-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

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A brutally honest and evocative account of anxiety and depression in poetry.

SWIMMING, NOT DROWNING

POEMS

A collection of poetry focuses on mental health struggles.

Marín, who holds a doctorate in African American literature, found inspiration for this book’s title in James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues,” a short story that reminds readers that deep water and drowning are not synonymous. It is an apt metaphor for the poet, who has suffered from anxiety and depression for much of her life. In free-verse poems, she transports readers from her childhood in Málaga, Spain, to the adolescent onset of her symptoms and her challenging adulthood. She methodically unpacks the torment she experienced from the “demon in my mind,” her “tyrant” of a brain, and a “a mob of angry people yelling” in her head. She recalls being told her troubles were all in her head by a doctor whose only solution was Valium. Confessions follow regarding the “mask I wear to chameleon / my way through each day” and how a “list of mistakes I made this past year pile up in my mind like cars.” She examines the frustration of finding the right antidepressant and how she despairs at the drudgery of everyday life. She divulges the difficulties of maintaining a marriage and parenting children while experiencing mental illness. Marín boldly confronts her own and others’ emotions and behaviors. “Mom’s silence claims / its space between the ceiling, floor, / and four walls of every room, enshrouding / the house with a smothering cloak / of unanswered questions,” she writes in “Behind Walls.” Her descriptions are vivid and tactile; a compassionate teacher comforted the author with “arms like a blanket.” Marín poignantly depicts how mental illness feels in lines like “Fear kidnaps my nerves, / ties them with electric wire,” and “I’m tired of the iron ball, / stuck in my throat.” Though she does experiment with a handful of haiku, they don’t always resonate. The poet’s writing excels when it has more room to explore.

A brutally honest and evocative account of anxiety and depression in poetry.

Pub Date: June 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73479-868-5

Page Count: 101

Publisher: Legacy Book Press LLC

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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