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

The Rabbi, The Goddess, and Jung

Review by Malcolm R. Campbell

In the introduction to this spiritual and psychological collection of essays, poet and Jungian analyst Naomi Ruth Lowinsky writes, “I didn’t have to account to God or my analyst for why I wasn’t Moses, or for that matter, Jung. I had to account for why I wasn’t Naomi.”

This visionary collection follows the transformations that molded Lowinsky from the prima materia of her young self in chaos and doubt into the Naomi that life and the gods were waiting for her to discover.

Readers of The Rabbi, the Goddess, and Jung witness outrageous fortune’s wont to injure seekers of the voice within with the arrows from its quiver of devils, demons, shadows, temptations and tricks. Ultimately, when the seeker hears and responds in harmony to that voice, s/he discovers the meaning of Joseph Campbell’s promise that “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are” and that the Tewa prayer’s answer from nature’s light in “Song of the Sky Loom” is a Garment of Brightness. Continue reading

The Journal of Vincent du Maurier III

“Saving the Best for Last”

Review by Joey Madia

Why are we so satisfied with trilogies? I think of books like the Lord of the Rings cycle, the Blake Crouch Pines series, and the Oedipus cycle of Sophocles, and film series like The Matrix and the original Star Wars and I can think of little more satisfying than a triadic installment of a well-told tale. In my book on storytelling I talk about trilogies and triads; about 3-Act structure and the Rule of 3s; and about Aristotle being the first to point out to us not only that good stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but what each of them should accomplish, a launching point I have built on for years in my “Three 3s of Good Storytelling” worksheets and workshops.

There is no doubt that there is something fundamental in our DNA as storytellers and story absorbers that makes a trilogy one of the perfect delivery mechanisms for a tale worth sharing—sharing being a two-way feedback loop of writer–reader on a journey that takes the writer’s IOUs and spreads them out over not just a chapter or book, but over a series of them. Continue reading