A Life in Light: Meditations on Impermanence by Mary Pipher (Bloomsbury). A psychologist (that’s what her Ph.D says), but pretty clearly her real calling from the start was not psychotherapist, …
A Life in Light: Meditations on Impermanence by Mary Pipher (Bloomsbury). A psychologist (that’s what her Ph.D says), but pretty clearly her real calling from the start was not psychotherapist, exactly—though she might well have been good at that, creating more health and happiness in the world than was there before she showed up—but, about equally essential to a definition of who and/or what she is, maybe something like, sage. Not a title that she’d claim, I think, but she mightn’t dismiss it.
These essays are serious; they’re not about therapy in any direct way, but about life as a serious undertaking, to be taken seriously and then worked at, formed and adjusted—and adjusted to, where that might be more likely to have an effect. So, to be lived with some care and a commitment to doing it responsibly, which is with care for those around you as well as for yourself—and then, and so, to enjoying it, as long you’re at it. This is a memoir in essays, not in sermons, and not so much teaching as representing what it’s like to strive honestly to be that and to accomplish all of that. Oh—and: it’s about impermanence because that’s a pretty much definitional quality of life, hers as much as yours and mine.
And, I don’t know about yours, but she is, in her life, in the part where the impermanence is beginning to make itself felt. She isn’t happy about that—that’d be nuts—but seems pretty clearly to be sort of proud to be able to be in touch with that, rather than burning up precious energy to keep it away from awareness.
One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke (Putnam). A strong book of this kind, a psychological thriller novel (subcategory, female friendship) by a real writer—not only scene by scene but line by line. Not show-offy (it seemingly just happens to be vivid, with no yelling), and not sadistic. Your jangly nerves will seem just happenstance, too. But jangly, and, no question, that’s Lucy Clarke’s doing. You don’t even think, oh! good writing, there, nicely done! You just think, “OH! I never thought she’d do that!” And, “Oh! But, yeah, we should’ve seen that coming.” And . . . and here’s where I stop demonstrating how much better she is at this than I am, and just say, get her book, you’ll thank me, anyway.
Reputation by Sarah Vaughan (Emily Bestler/Atria). Terrific thriller that’s also a topical, behind-the-scenes novel about both newspaper journalism (and gossip-mongering) and urban policing. Convincing, in all those aspects, and your faithful reviewer knows a little about some of that (the part that isn’t crime or crime-solving). The central character makes a mistake or two, but she isn’t stupid, just over her head for the moment, and not a wimp, either; so, easy not only to root for, but also to identify with.
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