The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 29, 1998 · Page 139
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March 29, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 139

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Sunday, March 29, 1998
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I 6J THE PALM BEACH POST SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 1998 'Anam Cara' a Celtic feast for the soul M ; rY '.'"V t" "'"' jSk- ! n rx n x n t'Q .1 V J V I V , . , j 'fnTmSi Anam Cara explains the traditions and rhythms of Celtic culture (a Celtic cross is at left) and shows us how to integrate such traditions into our lives. J sTv J lit mm- v., Brits skirt the wait for hot U.S. titles a .t" mtm, "":. Knife development of spirit occurs first with self-acceptance, and a recognition of one's own inherent gifts. As a poet and Catholic scholar, O'Donohue is generous even to the darkest corners of our psyche, encouraging us to embrace all our aspects, both positive and negative, as signposts showing us where we might grow. "There is a strange paradox in the soul: If you try to avoid or remove the awkward quality, it will pursue you ... the only effective way to still its unease is to transfigure it, to let it become something' creative and positive that contributes to who you are. If there are occasional weaknesses to the book, they are the problems of abundant prose rather than a scarcity of original ideas. Too many quotes seem to interrupt rather than enhance, but this is a small complaint compared to the book's rich tapestry of -thought. " Anam Cara brings out the potential for spiritual adventure and consolation within us all, without quick advice or cliches. Part mystic, part scholar, part anthropologist, O'Donohue encourages us to rediscover our lives with passion, and honor our unique paths. Noting that we need to "imagine more courageously," he offers us a map so that we can befriend , our anxieties and enjoy creation anew. Lisa McDonough lives in Jupiter Farms. ' ' Author John O'Donohue assures us that any development of spirit occurs first with self-acceptance, and a recognition of one's own inherent gifts. By Lisa McDonough Special To The Palm Beach Post ANAM CARA: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, by John O'Donohue. HarperCollins; 234 pages; $24. If you wanted to travel back in time through 2,000 years of Irish tradition, you could find few guides better than John O'Donohue. Born in the remote and rugged Connemara region, O'Donohue brings a native passion to his book Anam Cara. In this blend of spirituality and psychology, O'Donohue shines light upon the mysteries of the human soul with the torch of Celtic imagination. He offers the traditions and rhythms of Celtic culture and shows us how to integrate such spiritual traditions into modern living. Whether it is the first poem composed in Ireland, the legend of Diarmuid and Grainne or a meditation for when one feels isolated and unlovable, this blend of old and new sensibilities offers both practical and profound insights. The title Anam Cara, which means "soul friend" in Gaelic, refers to the Celtic custom of sharing your by buying on line innermost thoughts and spiritual concerns with someone who supports your growth. Since industrial living often shortchanges the time and patience needed to develop such relationships, by speaking of his own experiences and exploring how we can reconnect to our deepest heart, O'Donohue ultimately offers himself as the reader's anam cara. He organizes Anam around six themes: the mystery of friendship, the spirituality of the senses, the luminosity of solitude, work as a path of growth, aging as an inner harvest and death as a horizon. Affirming and embracing all the random possibilities of human nature, O'Donohue assures us that any In England, where they've grown used to waiting for months on end for hot American books, readers have learned to simply work the Net and order the volumes from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, among others. Since the most popular of these books are discounted, English readers are getting the books for far less than they would pay in the U.K. While there's an English law that prevents publishers from selling American books, there's nothing pre venting on-line purchases, which fall under the heading of mail order. U.S. superstores are reported to be planning to enter the British market late this year. Mau finrt have morru Wt Iv .... . r r ' I ITIUJ W IIMVW IIIVIVJ A , I on their souls for' x Penguin UK plans to release an annotated version of Proust's In Search of Lost Time in 2001, and has engaged a Scott Eyman Books Editor A well-meaning novelist with his best reviews behind him grapples with life's changes and improves with age. The well-drawn journey is compelling fiction. nfi V ; JL if tint i wXm Ik Q Cheever, Rushdie, Amis. The oldest writer to be found is Fitzgerald. "What appalled Schiller about these libraries was they featured nothing off the beaten track: no tattered paperbacks; no evidence of distinctive personal interests; no tokens of long intellectual detours passionately explored." Schiller is unhappy, has a sense of righteous grievance. What else is there to do but write? Brian Morton's novel is cause for celebration humane, nuanced, considerate of its characters, bereft of trendy literary hypocrisies. And technically interesting as well: It starts out focusing on Schiller and Heather, then slowly shifts to two other people altogether. This is not a bad thing. Heather is an irritating, if well-meaning, creature with a rather advanced appreciation for her own critical judgments and sex appeal. As she slowly passes out of our view, Schiller's daughter Ariel comes into focus. Ariel is a former dancer now teaching aerobics. In the first part of the book, observed through the eyes of Schiller and Heather, Ariel is a sweet ditz, with a history of failed relationships and at least two emotional breakdowns. But as the book goes on, as we grow more familiar with Ariel and her once and future lover Casey, we begin to respect and appreciate her even as her father does. And the more Schiller has to endure, the more we respect his insatiable need to disappear into his plain little office and peck out words, more words. So much modern fiction revolves around people with whom no sane person would want to lunch, let alone have a relationship. But there isn't a single negligible human being on view in Starting Out in the Evening. In particular, Leonard Schiller grows from a second-string curmudgeonnovelist to a first-rate human being, even as his physical woes deepen, even as his future biographer decides that the last 25 years of his writing were a waste of time. The longer you look at the picture, the more you see. Brian Morton's language is quiet, unflamboyant, but his characters are strong and three-dimensional. Starting Out in the Evening is a gorgeous novel, insistent on decency and human kindness, and it deserves an enormous success. """"i""" different translator for each volume. They've also created a Web site, so devout Proustians can send suggestions to the set's editor and translators, as if they didn't have , their hands full already. It's at www.penguin. co.ukproustindex.html. Meanwhile, Penguin's domestic operation is ramping up to take advantage of the fact that some major literary classics are about to fall out of copyright and into the public domain. James Joyce's Ulysses, the aforementioned Proust and T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land will all be issued by . Penguin this year. Just because the book is in public domain ; doesn't necessarily mean no royalties will be paid. The Joyce estate, for instance, is represented by ' the powerful agent Andrew Wylie, and publishers who want to do business with Wylie's living writers might very well be convinced to make good-faith payments to an estate he represents, even though they don't have to. Other items due to fall into the public domain soon are James Frazer's The Golden Bough, and some of Virginia Woolf. In a couple of years, Hemingway and Fitzgerald will join Kipling and Twain on the list of authors that anybody can reprint. Up the independents! ... One of my favorite areas of L.A. is the Los Feliz district, which had a superb bookstore called Chatterton's for years, until the owner died in 1994. The site was vacant for a couple of years, but recently reopened as Skylight Books, with an emphasis on literary fiction, gay and lesbian, and show business titles. What makes the store interesting is that it's owned by a limited partnership of 11 people, each of whom invested $20,000. Among the owners are Tony Danza and Jeffrey Tambor. Sci-fi ... Bantam has purchased three prequels to Frank Herbert's Dune for $1 million a book. The novels, to be written by Herbert's son Brian, with the assistance of a co-author, follow in the steps of the five sequels that Herbert wrote himself before his death in 1986. Author Alert! ... The following are at Liberties at Mizner Park in Boca Raton: Delta Burke will be signing her new book, Delta Style, today at 1 p.m. On Wednesday, Jane Heller will be signing her new comic novel, Crystal Clear, at 7:30 p.m. At the Borders at 525 N. Congress Ave. in Boynton Beach, Joy Pelzmann and Myrna Rosoff will be speaking and signing their book about taking care of aged parents, Decisions to Make, Paths to Take, on Monday at 7:30 p.m. At the Borders at 9887 Glades Road in Boca Raton, Tom Welch will be speaking and talking about his new book, Work Happy, Live Healthy: New Solutions for Career Satisfaction, on Monday at 7:30 p.m. At Clematis Street Books, next Sunday at 2 p.m., Dean Tong, author of Ashes to Ashes, will be giving a talk on child abuse. And at the Barnes & Noble at 2480 PGA Blvd. in Palm Beach Gardens, Carlos Warter will lecture and sign his book, Who Do You Think You Are: The Healing Power of Your Sacred Self, on Tuesday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. Quote Unquote . . . "One can run away from women, turn them out, or give in to them. No fourth course." E.M. Forster Illustration by ROB BARGEStaff Artist By Scott Eyman Palm Beach Post Books Editor STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING, by Brian Morton. Crown; 325 pages; $25. Nobody reads Leonard Schiller anymore. His four novels are out of print, and only the first two, Tenderness and Two Marriages, were well reviewed. Personally, he's at something of a low ebb since his beloved wife died, and his health is none too good since the second heart attack. But then an eager young grad student named Heather decides to make his work especially those precious first two novels she regards as her personal touchstones the subject of her thesis. Most writers, with the night coming on and no other prospects in sight, would embrace that student, no matter how callow, but Schiller has always been a serious man. For Schiller, writing is not an expression of ego, but a daily offering to the Church of Literature; he remains aloof from the madding commercial crowd. His apartment is the sort of place that Edmund Wilson might have had. Here, the complete Balzac; there the complete James. On this shelf criticism ranging from Matthew Arnold to Pritchett. He's always thinking, and always working on his last novel, the magnum opus he prays he has enough time to finish, whether or not anybody wants to publish it, whether or not anybody wants to read it. "The primary human need," he believes, "stronger than the need for food or sex or love is the need A IWlll " 1 one for recognition, the need to make a mark in the world ... If you have talents, you exercise them: if you're Mozart, you write The Magic Flute. And if you don't have any talents, you thrust yourself into the path of others in cruder ways: you wear stupid T-shirts . . . and if your life has been stunted from the first by violence and harsh surroundings, then you steal things or destroy things or hurt people: anything, any thing, to leave an image of yourself in other people's minds." Schiller is a man out of his time and he knows it. When he takes Heather to a literary party, he runs into young editors who turned down his last book, as well as young editors who have never heard of him. He examines the bookshelves of his host. They're the same as the bookshelves of all the other young editors he knows Updike, Carver, 'American Work9 compares past, present inequality Bestsellers authors as Dinesh D'Sousa and Charles Murray, who apparently believe that . racism no longer is, and perhaps never really was, a problem, she ignores the persuasive thesis of the liberal sociologist William Julius Wilson. In surveys of present conditions that are as detailed as Jones' study of the past, Wilson suggests that historical discrimination and present deindus-trialization have combined to create conditions in inner-dry communities where "work disappears." Thus, while most blacks are participating in the economy, others have been left isolated not only from job opportunities but also from the mainstream culture and its emphasis on : education and employment While : Jones recalls the past, she best explains our present and this valuable work displays both the merits and the limits of an outstanding study of " By David Kusnet The Baltimore Sun AMERICAN WORK: Black and White Labor Since 1600, by Jacqueline Jones. Norton; 512 pages; $29.95. In the discussion of racial inequality in America, the most radical point that can be made is to recall our nation's history. With national debate dominated by those who hint that affirmative action programs are the only obstacle to "colorblindness," it seems subversive to recall how blacks have been treated for almost four centuries. That is what Jacqueline Jones does in American Work: Black and White Labor Since 1600, and her painstakingly researched volume is an invaluable antidote to thoe who argue that our shameful past has no relevance to our perplexing present ( By concentrating on how Ameri than by professors, pundits or policymakers how factory and office jobs alike were racially stratified during the first decades of this century. But American Work has faults that flow from its strengths. As a study of racism, it downplays the ways in which working Americans of all backgrounds have striven to improve their condition, part of the context for any history of blacks in the workplace. Today's America is treated almost as an afterthought, and it is unclear how much inequality Jones ascribes to current discrimination and how much to the impact of economic change upon a society that has made significant efforts to equalize opportunities. Most of all, by suggesting that the present is a mirror image of the past, she ignores important issues facing contemporary Americans. While her work answers the arguments of Puch cans have earned their livelihoods since the colonial era, she shows how racial and economic inequalities ' emerged, prevailed and persist to this day. At a moment when our leaders tell us we are entering a "global economy" and "the information age," Jones recalls how blacks have been held back during every other social and economic transformation. She notes that economic and political elites have used stereotypes over the years to demean blacks and divide them from other working Americans. In terms that persist in the current debates over welfare and "racial preferences," blacks have been depicted simultaneously as too lazy to work and as fierce and favored competitors for jobs. If it offered nothing else, this book would be essential for explaining an era more often recalled by grandparents . New York Times News Service HARDCOVER Fiction 1 THE STREET LAWYER, by John Gnsham. (Doubleday. $27.95.) 2 PARADISE, by Tooi Morrison. (Knopf, $25.) 3 PANDORA, by Anne Pxe (Knopf, $19 95.) A 2 000-year-old yampre recounts her enpenences. from impenal Rome to 20th-century Pans and New Oceans 4 COLD MOUNTAIN, by Charles Fraaer (Atlantic Monthly. $24.) 5 BLOOO WORK, by Michael Connelly. (Little. Brown. $23 95.) MEMOIRS Of A GEISHA, by Arthur Golden. (Knopf. $25 ) 7 BLACK AND BLUE, by Anna Qumdten (Random House. $23.) THRILL! by l-ie Conns. (Simon & Schuster, $25 ) MIRACLE CURSE, by Michael Palmer (Bantam. $23 95.) 10 6U1.TY PLEASURES, by Lawence Sanders (Putnam. $24 95 ) Non-fiction 1 TALKINO TO HEAVE, by tames van P-aagh (DuTton. $22 95.) 2 TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE. by Mitch Albom (Doubieday. $!9 95.) 3 ANGELA'S ASHES, bv fr MrCourt rScntyw. $24 ) , 4 MIDNIGHT M THE GARDEN Of GOOD AND EVA, by John Berencfl (Partem House. $23 i S SMN CYCLE, r Howard fi P'ess. $25 I THE LONG HARD ROAD OUT Of HELL, by Mamyn Mason with Neii Stra;js (Oetan Krisv.,., $74 1 7 THE MAN WHO US TENS TO HORSES, by Monty P -s (Ranoom $23 I t INTO THIN AIR. by Jor, Krakauer. rViBard. $24 95 I . I 0note first tJm Sa4

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