Chasing Eve

“Each of Us Are All of Us”

A review by Joey Madia

I have to say up front: I am a big fan of Sharon Heath’s writing—especially her characters, such as the brilliant but troubled eponymous lead in the Fleur trilogy (also published by Thomas-Jacob). Heath, a certified Jungian analyst, “writes fiction and non-fiction exploring the inter-play of science and spirit, politics and pop culture.” Creating at the intersection of perceived dichotomies such as these is very Jungian, alchemical, shamanic, and above all, necessary.
Some books provide an escape hatch away from the mounting troubles of a world in crisis. And there are plenty of reasons to seek escape. This past week, another pair of factors—economics and health—ramped up their interplay with the increase in Coronavirus cases and wild gyrations in the Stock Market. (The fact that we talk about economics and health as closely linked because of greedy pharmaceutical and insurance companies and a complicit AMA is a national embarrassment.)

Heath’s books, however, engage us further into the world’s troubles, as she ups the stakes on a macro level while pulling us in with her characters on the micro level.

If literature has real value for the soul, this is it.

Although there are many thematic overlaps with the Fleur trilogy and Chasing Eve, it is the unique features of the latter that I am going to concentrate on here.

Chasing Eve takes place in Los Angeles, a geography with which Heath is obviously intimately familiar. LA is a complex intermix of racial and religious dichotomies, of extravagant wealth and fame, and abject poverty and obscurity within the city’s large population of homeless. In Chasing Eve we encounter those suffering from drug addiction, AIDS, and the pains of basic survival co-existing with doctors, college professors, and a Hollywood public relations specialist whose bad behavior and at times eye-opening coldness to what’s going on around them set the book’s thematic tone. Continue reading

The World is Not Going to Stop for my Broken Heart

“An Unimaginable Loss”

By Joey Madia

It has been rightly said that losing a child is the most unnatural and devastating loss a parent can bear. And, with a yearly rise in deaths from opiate addiction and suicide, more and more parents are having to shoulder this worst of all grief.

Nearly six years ago, Amy Jo Giovannone lost her daughter, Sierra, in unimaginable circumstances involving a beautiful, talented young lady whom everyone loved being prescribed opiates after surgery and finding herself addicted, leading to heroine use, involvement with dangerous and abusive people, a successful stint in rehab, followed by her disappearance and murder at the age of 23.

No one was ever charged. Although there are strong hypotheses, this book, and Amy’s journey, do not center around the pursuit of justice (and, sad to say, there was none).

Instead, Amy has chosen to share her process and philosophy for surviving the death of her daughter.

It is clear early on that the two of them were very close, making the pain all the greater.

What makes this book so valuable and unique (I have read and reviewed several books about death, grief, and loss and have lost several people close to me over the years) is that Amy’s path to healing and wholeness is one less traveled. One that might appeal to those who have tried traditional grief counseling, individually and in groups, and found it wasn’t enough. Continue reading

The Self-Discovery Book: Inner Self-Improvement, Book 1

A Review by Joey Madia

There are decades’ worth of self-help/self-improvement books, DVDs, YouTube channels, workshops, retreat weekends, and so on out there. So the first question for both a reviewer and a reader when another book like this comes out is, “What sets this one apart?” In this case, there is more than enough that is new and insightful to recommend it, even if, like me, you have been on this path for most of your life.

First and foremost, this is a workbook, and I am impressed with the thoroughness of the various questionnaires. I also like how closely they align with the text that precedes them. There are hours of work (and many revelations and ah-ha moments) ahead for the committed reader. As you engage with the text and complete the questionnaires, you’ll begin to resonate with the twin goals of “awareness” and “awakening” that are fundamental to the journey.

Another plus is that the book is designed for you to become an active creator of your life. This aligns with the work of currently popular Dr. Joe Dispenza, and my three decades using spiritual practices in storytelling to train actors, directors, and writers. The author identifies eleven attributes of a creator (typically there are seven, correlated with the chakras), which you’ll need to read the book to discover. Being a creator keeps you from falling into the familiar patterns that constitute a life lived under repetitive loops and a semi-conscious hypnosis. Continue reading

American Refugee

A Review by Joey Madia

Disclaimer: I have known Sam Graber for 16 years and have worked with him for 14. We have co-written children’s shows, he’s published four of my nonfiction books, and my theatre company has debuted or work-shopped many of his plays.

That said, American Refugee is an important new podcast that stands on its merits without my doing a fluff piece for an old friend and colleague. Although, after hearing the first two episodes multiple times, I felt compelled to get the word out.

American Refugee is hosted on the OD Action website, which has “a network of more than a quarter million Americans committed to doing our part to right our ship of state and restore a sense of basic decency to our government.”

Of American Refugee, they say: “the big bold podcast finding the heartwarming, heartbreaking and sometimes hilarious stories of American refugees. … You’re about to hear remarkable stories rooted in the most pressing human rights challenges of our time.”

Although it’s rare in advertising, there is truth to this.

American Refugee is immersive journalism in the tradition of Sebastian Junger. It’s not phone interviews cobbled together around a theme. It’s not a progression of talking heads. All the interviewees, locations, and perspectives circle around and illuminate different aspects of the theme, as one would expect from a high-quality narrative. American Refugee is classic storytelling in an audio package with high production value and compelling subject matter. Continue reading

The Jewel in the Manuscript

Review of a Stage Play by Joey Madia

Fyodor Dostoevsky is recognized by many as one of history’s greatest novelists (myself included). Crime and Punishment is ubiquitous in high school and college literature classes, and Notes From Underground, the Brothers Karamasov, and The Idiot beg numerous readings over the course of one’s life.

His novels dig deeply into the human psyche, tackle complex moral issues, and are rich in both characterization and imagery.

That said, I knew little about the personal life of the man whose novels were part of the reason why I became a writer. And so it was, with no hesitation and great interest, that I accepted the request to read and review this play, which, as the playwright tells us, “was inspired by events in Dostoevsky’s life.” “Inspired by” is a phrase I much prefer in place of “based on a true story.” It gives the writer ample room for interpretation, as “inspiration” indicates the writer’s role clearer than “based on.” Because of “inspired by,” I did not fact check the play beyond the playwright’s own notes to the reader at the end of the script. Continue reading