The impetus for writing a book against psoriasis came from Deirdre Earls’ own long and painful encounter with the skin condition. The dietitian from Texas chose a more natural way of tackling her problem by healing with diet instead of chemotherapy. Her book Your Healing Diet (BookSurge Publishing, South Carolina, 2006) gives dietary advice on coping with problems, including psoriasis, resulting from noxious food.
Though Earls’ book is a short one, mere 62 pages, it offers a simple and clear explanation of the anatomy of psoriasis and other diseased conditions in terms of food intake and digestion. Particularly informative and interesting are the author’s description of human body’s acid/alkaline balance, nutritional value of different food species, and comparison of natural versus processed food items. The facts sum up to the uncommon but wholesome principle of ‘healing from the inside out’ rather than ‘healing only the symptoms from the outside in’.
Earls puts forth her three central healing principles: diet, positive outlook, and outdoor activity. The brunt of her dietary commendation stands on fresh vegetarian food, discouraging flesh, fat, and artificial snacks. She shares her own culinary chart with the readers, caring for taste, which, to her, comes after good health.
The real value of her work is latent in the power of motivation her words stir up in the reader. The many side effects of drugs are the horror of a patient. Knowledge of our natural nutritional treasure is essential to each and every person who is having health problems of any sort. Earls’ short book comes close to achieving this aim.
For Americans, or those visiting here, Your healing Diet is of practical guidance in that it has a list of stores where food of value can be purchased. Whether one is home or traveling, Earls’ book is a good guide to better eating.
Author Website: http://www.yourhealingdiet.net/pages/1/index.htm
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
Naveed Nori is an author’s pseudonym now getting to be known for his novel Dakhmeh (Toby Press, USA, 2003). Noori’s work is disturbing, antirevolutionary, and almost deliriously scornful toward Islamic totalitarianism in post revolutionary Iran.
Dakhmeh is the story of a young, irreligious man, Arash whose nostalgic compulsion drives him back to Iran, his home country that his family fled during the war of Islamic Revolution. The misery of post revolutionary Iranian life shatters his idealistic picture of life in his country and he ends up as a political prisoner somewhere between sanity and madness.
From the first page, the text of the book hits the reader as poorly written, egotistical, and sloppy. The story lacks a clear point and character development is null. Narration is mostly incoherent with alternating first person and omniscient modes, both abruptly truncating. Too much of personal pique shows on every page till the end. Even conversation between the vaguely portrayed characters feel like formal interviews, all leading to a prefigured viewpoint.
Certainly the author has plucked a significant string in the history of politics and societal transformation. His (?) criticism of media and cruel treatment of all creatures outside the fundamentalist’s circle are of appeal to the humanistic mind. Still, Noori fails badly as a novelist. The motives of his (?) protagonist are diffused and Arash’s obsession with socio political change is utterly boring. Lack of meaning in the protagonist’s experiences is disappointingly manifest. His vindictive bitterness pours out on leaders and historical figures alike, childishly with little thought or coherence of ideas. The intended audience of the author is also hard to imagine.
In general, Dakhmeh is a frumpy text of sloppily worked political history and social dilapidation. After Arash contracts a prostitute, we read him asking himself ‘Where was I heading?’ A reader’s wish might well be ‘If only the author had asked himself (?) the same question before setting out to write this book.’
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Naomi Ragen is an international bestseller novelist, a writer of and about the core of human life. Chains Around the Grass (The Toby Press, USA, 2003) is the book Ms. Ragen says that she became an author to write. Setting the story of a poor Jewish family in the heart of America, Naomi Ragen calls for a revision of attitudes shaped by the sickness of reckless capitalism and its people who have turned into machines fuelled with business.
The novel’s prologue is captivating. Through the eyes of the moment, little Sara Markowitz is shown sitting in humility in her rich uncle’s house with her mother Ruth and brother Jesse out for the funeral of her father David Markowitz. Pursuing the old American dream of a well-off future, David never realizes the greater need of familial love that is showering him all along and the lives of his family chug along the uncertain paths of the business world. With the loss of David the family slumps into an indefinable channel of struggle against the demands of the society and its own integrity.
Chains Around the Grass is one of the semantically richest works carrying a number of issues. Sick capitalist values are questioned in the suffering of widowed Ruth and her children with several close, rich, relatives. The dilemma of a poor minority’s identity under social pressure speaks in Ruth’s resentment of changing Jesse’s family name to ‘Marks’. What underlies insanity is illustrated cogently in Jesse’s character. Sara’s character embodies the process of personality development under early childhood traumas. The best explored is, perhaps, gender inequality prevailing in the social world, best instantiated in Sara’s feelings of hatred towards her own brother.
Naomi Ragen’s striking symbolism in her novel’s situations is the quality of her work that best complements other merits. The heaven of idealized life is shattered to ‘chips flying away under time’s relentless chisel’. When they were united and beautiful like young lush grass, they were out of reach on account of ‘chains’ around them. One set of ‘ropes’ is replaced with another and the dream of catching your life’s beauty is never actualized until you see your life’s time ending abruptly like a dream. Naomi Ragen is at her best in justice with her characters. Reality comes to them as they finally learn to ‘measure their life with the right yardstick’. Through Ruth’s faith, we all know that a purely humanistic relationship is possible if we know the beauty of our inner self. It is an illustration of Eric Fromm’s humanistic psychoanalysis; a story as real as reading one’s own mind.
With all its beauty of language and elements of realistic fiction, Chains Around the Grass carries a problem as a book. The title and the prologue are suggestive of Sara as being the protagonist. It is through Sara’s eyes that the tenderness of life and monsters of fear are revealed to us but Sara’s character is treated scantily as compared to that of her parents and her brother Jesse. Essentially it is the story of Ruth’s life. Her figure could have given a better illustrative title and prologue.
Author’s Website: http://naomiragen.com/
Sunday, April 16, 2006
The second volume of Tom Anselmo plays Three 1-Act Plays (Red Brindle Press, New York, 2006) is not a series like the first one Gail’s Place by virtue of the same protagonist and unity of place, but by the common motif resolution of self’s internal conflicts. As Anselmo puts it in his preface to the plays ‘I write about people who are on the verge of self-discovery’, the book causes the conflicts in an individual’s mind peep through the voice of the leading characters. As the person in the story discovers his or her own suppressed urges, values of familial love, commitment, and obligation undergo critical scanning.
The plays begin with Matt and Sara, set in a resort, in which the protagonists consciously deny themselves aspects of their personalities that society might find obnoxious. Matt gives up speaking in company to evade any awkwardness on account of his stuttering. Sara is a self-restrainer, ashamed of her aunt’s showy manners practiced for winning men’s affection. Their need and struggle for self-acceptance bring them together on common grounds. The theme of the play symbolically comes out to be the victory of human understanding over flirtatious ostentation in any meaningful relationship.
Getting deeper to the core of the conflict is The Voices, a play in which two different impulses of Cathy, the heroine, are personified characters. The issue at hand is Cathy’s suspicion of Steve in regard to his sincerity to Ellie, Cathy’s friend and Steve’s girlfriend. Cathy has seen Steve with another young woman in way that makes her inner voices contend for keeping or revealing the incident to Ellie. The first voice presses on retaining the secret for the sake of intimacy while the second one is resolved on squaring things at the surface for the sake of making relationships better. Anselmo presented the conflict in Gail’s Place. Only this time both impulses are vis-à-vis, sweeping dust off the true nature of social reality: is social reality there as matter of course, or is it created when one impulse gets over the others to seize the self? The author leaves the question open to the audience, to be taken up by their own inner voices.
Summing up the argument between the inner voices in the third play Penny is again Gail Stanza, heroine of Anselmo’s trilogy of 2-act plays Gail’s Place. Eponymous Penny is Gail’s sister in law who has continued pampering her husband Robby despite his repeated indulgence in gambling. As Penny asks Gail for help with their debt, Gail reacts crossly to Penny’s blind devotion to her husband in the name of love. The dialogue between Gail, Ron, and Penny brings out the issue of familial obligation versus common sense. The underlying question is whether sympathy should be furthered or checked when one’s peace of mind is knuckling under it.
Anselmo’s plays renovate the tradition of serious drama by invoking a debate over the limitations of social norms and individual obligation to follow them. The scope of his discussion is multifold, pertinent to matters of family, sense, obligation, spontaneity of one’s self, and discovery of new ways of existing against the modus vivendi.
Anselmo’s Three 1-Act Plays is the thoughtful mind’s donut.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Thomas Hardy didactically preserved his Tess, a young woman who attempted to be honest in her intimate relationship by revealing her secret, and thus ended at the gallows. Tom Anselmo takes care to let his Gail clinch a footing in both her inner and social worlds as she unveils the mask of falsity in relationships. Anselmo’s first volume of plays is a trilogy of two-act plays by the title Gail’s Place (Red Brindle Press, New York, 2006). While each plays stands on its own plot, central to all is Gail Stanza’s character, a woman who is bent on reconciling her inner self with that of her social role by cracking secrets that tend to stifle one’s individuality and true identity.
The opening play Secret Burdens centers Gail Stanza at the heart of their party in the honor of their friends’ marriage anniversary. While Lily attributes her marriage’s success to care in keeping secrets from the spouse, as do Mark and Evelyn, Gail is disposed nearly in excess to resurrect past grievances so as to ensure calm in the future. Gail’s character has no hint of sullenness about her and so the audience is likely to appreciate her assertiveness as the moral implications of it unfold.
Clues starts as a detective drama with Evelyn Harper lying in coma in the hospital. Gail’s speculations about Mark are turning into reality and the question of responsibility arises from the depth of Gail’s character. We meet Gail’s inner self, personified, and conversing with Gail over shutting down of vital human sensibilities. Gail’s self-conscious speech makes her a lovable character: ‘I have the distinguished honor of being a big-mouth.’ And her pride in her truthfulness is an impetus to secretive sufferers like Margaret: ‘I’m glad I don’t have the kind of ties that turn us into moral pretzels.’ As Gail scatters the shards of hypocrisy for good, Lily sees her own inner self, clad in a shroud, rising and walking. Anselmo’s genius shows, not tells, how to connect with your being’s center.
The third play The Place moves the argument closer into Gail’s home as her husband Ron finds himself at odds with his inner self against his colleague’s promotion grounded on Ron’s support. Carl is suspected of sexual harassment of one of his students. Again it is Gail who goads her husband to act in harmony with his inner voice. Gail’s personified, abstract, self finds a mate in form of Ron’s resurrected center. Alongside we see the false consciousness of Lynn, Carl’s wife, who accepts compromise as matter of course.
Anselmo has fixed the familiar signboard of serious drama in the history of modern literature. With no foul language, no hip-hop mania, conscientious protagonists, and character-driven situations, Anselmo’s plays speak the truth about the nature of secrets, their implications, and behavioral significance.
The serious subject matter and ease of writing style place Anselmo’s book among lovable reads.
Author Website: http://www.tomanselmo.com/index.html
Saturday, April 08, 2006
In the vista are two authors, Joseph Telushkin and Allen Estrin, who have joined heads to chill the breath of mystery nuts with their paranormal psychological thriller Heaven’s Witness (Toby Press, Connecticut, USA, 2004). The prologue of this 462 pages, hardbound, chiller sets one’s curiosity on heels in a second and keeps the reader’s breath stranded for a pretty good while.
To call Heaven’s’ Witness a unique thriller of its kind would be overlooking an overwhelming number of thriller books and movies. Those Indian flick maniacs are long familiar with the ‘transmigration of soul’ belief and even in Hollywood it is not a novel idea. Heaven’s Witnes's specialty is the way it has attempted to reconcile the age-old idea of soul survival with the partially explored realm of paranormal psychology.
In the novel, we meet Robin Norris, a young actress of twenty-five, who is taken in deep hypnotic trance by a psychiatrist Jordan Geller. In a state of regression, Robin assumes the identity of a seventeen-year old girl Beverly Casper and describes a horrifying murder scene of the teenager, a murder that took place seven years prior to Robin’s birth. Who can resist leaping up! The story thus proceeds in the usual suspense movie style with a series of murders of teenage girls, each killing followed by a message to the parents from the Messenger, the serial killer. Suspects get shifting in the reader’s mind and the protagonists run themselves in deeper trouble before finally coming up with the Messenger’s real identity.
Two things undermine the novel’s take over. First, the question killer who? is answered nearly in full by the time we read a little more than half of the book. Second, the curiosity about why is quenched at nearly the same time. What is worse is that the main hook in the story Is Robin’s account an instance of reincarnation or a rationally possible revival of suppressed memory? is left unresolved at the end. The effect is like being cheated.
There are weaknesses that are all too obtrusive. Dr. Geller’s hypnotic skills working on Robin are almost cartoonish. Lack of character development is the book’s Achilles Heel. The element of romance in the story is little more than dead and we look at a passive, talking-only hero. The situations are not effectively experienced from any single character’s eyes and a feeling of detachment from the whole tale prevails through most of the book’s’ length. Perhaps it is what comes off when you try to gather thirty-two years of mystery in two weeks of the narration’s span.
In spite of all the weaknesses, Heaven’s Witness has some convincingly appreciable qualities. Deviant psychiatrist Geoffrey Bolton’s belief things just don’t happen, there’s a reason is a conviction that strengthens Dr. Geller’s case of pursuing his view of reality with genuine force. The need to deviate from the stereotyped and clichéd has found firm footing in the story’s framework. Still more significant is the psychological peep into the depths of some common diseased products of life: the panic-stricken writer whose real disease is the degradation of audience’s taste of comedy, the porn-obsessed young man whose root problem is low self-esteem on account of his homely figure, and the mother-hating young woman who is the victim of her domineering mother’s hard-shelled feminism.
Heaven’s Witness is a nice read but not hypnotically riveting.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
It is impressive to see that a woman, Amy C. Baker, from the corporate world has stepped forward to show us our deepest human value: the need for serving our departing generation. Her book Slow Dancing at Death’s Door (Life Journey/Cook International, Colorado, 2006) incarnates a healthy form of what has been called ‘Survivor’s Syndrome’. Amy Baker exhausts her experience of anger, frustration, loneliness, and grief, that are the lot of so many aging members of our ‘Sandwich Generation’, and comes out with an enlightening lesson: forgiving for not knowing better.
Losing her mother to cancer and father to Hepatitis C, Amy Baker recounts what it feels like losing your loved ones and how best you can play your role of a caring child, at the same time a spouse, a parent, a responsible employee, and many temporary roles that one is obliged to take in life. That business world has not calcified her human spirit shows in Baker’s account of all she did for her dying parents to claim her success as a humane being. That she is an intelligent writer is evident from the warmth and energy of emotion that saturate her expression throughout the book.
As Amy Baker maturely embellishes her passages with good-hearted humor, the gravity of a subject like death (and that of one’s own parents) has no chance to oppress or offend the reader. However, Baker does more than that. With her faith, she illustrates the falsity of our perfection-seeking attitude towards life, thus showing us the importance to shed our slough of self-centeredness while at the same time not overlooking the need to take care of ourselves in order to be able to care for our parents. The emphasis is on growth not only in flesh and blood but more so in human spirit. On the practical side, we can see advice on hospice, management of ailing parents, and legal matters pertaining to inheritance, estate panning, and wills.
The nonconformist reader might frown over Baker’s frequent resort to biblical quotes, which are seen as the source of inspiration and divine power. This does become a bit obtrusive, especially at end of the book, where the author discusses preserving family history for future generations. Nevertheless, the spontaneity of her account of her parents’ death holds high her attempt to ‘light beacons of hope’ in her reader’s heart. The touching beauty of Amy Baker’s tapestry of words in paying homage to her late parents is heart winning. She is one writer who emerges victorious from her situation as a caring survivor.
Author’s Website http://www.amycbaker.com/