Improving Mental Health

‘We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.’ Anaïs Nin

Review by Grady Harp

New York’s Chief Psychiatrist Lloyd I. Sederer, M.D., is Chief Medical Officer of the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), the nation’s largest state mental health system, an Adjunct Professor at the Columbia/Mailman School of Public Health, and has been Medical Director and Executive Vice President of McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, a Harvard teaching hospital, and Director of the Division of Clinical Services for the American Psychiatric Association. His contributions to his field and to the community at large have been rewarded by the American Psychiatric Association (Psychiatric Administrator of the Year), Scholar-in-Residence grant by the Rockefeller Foundation and an Exemplary Psychiatrist award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He has published books for both professional and lay audiences in addition to many articles in medical journals and non-medical publications like TheAtlantic.com, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Commonweal Magazine, and Psychology Today. He is Medical Editor for Mental Health for the Huffington Post and Contributing Writer to US News & World Report. Continue reading

Land of Hidden Fires

‘He that lives on hope shall die fasting.’

Review by Grady Harp

Kirk Kjeldsen simply has it! Having worked through the hoops of preparation – an MFA from USC and serving as an assistant professor of cinematic arts at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts – Kirk lived in Shanghai, adapted the poetry of Yarjei Vesaas into a feature film, and has a résumé that reads like an actor’s tryout for heavy movie roles. He now lives Essen,Germany with his family.

But to have all that background and then come to the literary table with a debut novel as polished as TOMORROW CITY suggests that his rightful role may be as an author or a screenwriter. Now with his second novel LAND OF HIDDEN FIRES he is becoming well established as a novelist of the first rank. His use of language is so appropriate and filtered free of extraneous clutter that the reader soon understands that to lose attention for a moment on a page will be like falling off a cliff! Continue reading

Giving Voice to Dawn

“Past Lives Matter”

A Review of Giving Voice to Dawn, written and illustrated by L. S. Gribko

Review by Joey Madia

“I am a neophyte mystic…”

Thus opens the debut novel from L. S. Gribko. I hesitate to use the word novel, as this book is so much more. Its use of amalgam characters engaging in the Socratic method to explore the spiritual journey evokes Carlos Casteneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan and Dan Milman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior while the vivid descriptions and level of research of the Civil War battlefields and leaders that form the core of the book would make both a historian like Bruce Catton and a novelist like Michael Shaara proud. It is part travelogue, part spiritual handbook, part Ted Andrew’s Animal Speak, and part family saga. That Gribko weaves it all together in such a way as to make a deeply moving page-turner that speaks to the Seeker in all of us is no small achievement.

As though the rich prose were not enough, Gribko fills the book with poems and illustrations that bring her words and encounters to life and give the reader a reflective pause from the at-times dense, descriptive action. Continue reading

War of the Ancient Dragon

“A testament to the healing capacities of the imagination, the humble “star in man” that connects us to the unconscious: to unknown and unexpected developments in ourselves.” says Literary Aficionado

New Title Press Release
Just Published by Fisher King Press:

War of the Ancient Dragon: Transformation of Violence in Sandplay
by Laurel A. Howe

Six-year-old Randy conducts bloody wars in the sandtray, calling them “World War One,” “World War Two,” and “The War of the Ancient Dragon.” He burns fires and bombs helpless victims, killing some and saving others. What could possibly be going on in his imagination?

The contents of his imagination—what the alchemists call the “realm of subtle bodies”—are revealed in his sandplay from one session to the next, and there we see the raw, autonomous dynamism that motivates Randy, already branded a bully and nearly expelled from first grade. We see fiery, destructive conflict, part his, part his culture’s, part lived, part projected, a conflict of archetypal opposites that engulf Randy’s personality and fuel his violent behavior.

But also from Randy’s imaginal world, out of the very war between opposites that drives him, the unknown third possibility unfolds. Continue reading

East of Eden

Review by Paige Ambroziak

This is a story about the endurance of the human soul, about choosing to be who you would like to be rather than believing you were cut with a mold that can’t be broken. But also it’s a story about forgiveness, the freedom of choice and the long road one must walk between one’s beginning and one’s end, and all the causes and effects in-between. Steinbeck’s masterpiece, for to call it anything less is impossible, has left me with a sense of loss. When I came to the end of this epic tale of family and humanity, I felt abandoned simply because I ran out of words to read. I wanted to carry on in his characters’ lives, spying on their darkness, watching them evolve and bloom and outrun the forces haunting them. No book has made me feel quite so much sadness and excitement at once. Perhaps because I’m a writer, I relished the painterliness of Steinbeck’s prose. I turned every single one of its six-hundred and one pages at a furious pace, and yet I indulged and languished and roamed the landscape he had painted for me, and me alone.

The story is so personal, a reader might feel it is written for her. It is a story we must hear, a story we know, a story with which we can connect, as we do with all the ones passed down from civilization to civilization. We commune with great stories, religious accounts, epic tales, because we see ourselves most readily in them, and as Lee (one of Eden’s finest characters) says, that’s why we keep telling, and retelling, them from one generation to the next. Steinbeck draws on the Old Testament, turning over the story of Cain and Abel and making it his, for us anew. And because we see ourselves in it—our good and evil—we devour his retelling as though it were medicine to save our soul, the cure for all our ails. But perhaps I exaggerate, indulging in the power of the writer a little too much. Or maybe I do feel my soul a little shaken by my experience, swept up in the writer’s magic. Either way, I am satisfied to credit Steinbeck for my joy at venturing into his Eden. Continue reading