Review of How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead

I just finished reading ‘How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead’ by Ariel Gore. It was a book I picked up off the shelf while wandering through the 808 section of the North Vancouver City library. The title is light and funny and a little outrageous. The book follows in that impression.
Reading this book I felt like I had happened across an interesting stranger in a coffee shop or brew pub, struck up a conversation, and had then found myself held captive by the stories, language, attitude and enthusiasm. Quite simply, this book is fun.
Ariel Gore has a sharp mind, and her wit and intellect come through on every page. She has a ‘can do’ attitude that creates an infectious energy in the reader. Sure it will be hard work to become a famous writer before you’re dead but here is how to get started. Come on, let’s go.
I saw some parallels to  A. L. Kennedy’s ‘On Writing’ essays. Both women have done stand up comedy work and that busy, active mind comes through in spades.
Funny, quirky even, the book is a bit of a thrill ride. Wait, slow down I think, I need to write this down. But then I realize it is a book, not a conversation, and I can go back at my leisure.
She finds she cannot get the reclusive Haruki Murakami to sit down for an interview. No problem, she will just imagine the conversation, thereby ‘Showing rather than Telling’ that imagination can overcome so many obstacles.
Short chapters keep it moving, and the real or imagined exercises give the reader great take aways.
Like most writers, I am a little shy and introverted. Whether I can put these directions into real action might be a stretch. But I think the plan and directions are solid.
Highly recommended.

Review of You are the Placebo

I rarely review books I didn’t like. On June 3 I suffered a serious spinal injury while mountain biking. Since then several friends have given me books to help with my recovery. ‘You are the Placebo’ by Dr. Joe Dispenza was one such book. I had just finished reading ‘The Brain that Changes Itself’ by Norman Doidge so I had some understanding of neuroplasticity and the ideas that the body and brain can adapt. So I had high hopes.
The book begins with some interesting research on the placebo effect, and how mind over body is a real measurable phenomenon. Okay, I thought, this makes sense. But Doctor Dispenza veered off track and left me scratching my head. He gave a long anecdote on a research project where a subject was hypnotized to commit a crime. Interesting, I thought, but what does this have to do with the book subject? I think the author had an interesting story he needed to tell. His editor should have told him this isn’t the place.
But I persevered and continued reading. My analytical mind didn’t want to blow this off too quick.
But then he hit me with another caveat. He tells the readers that people with strong analytical minds may not be able to use this material as they are resistant to suggestibility. I think I am open to new thoughts and ideas and have read a number of ‘new age’ books that I have enjoyed and put into practice. I am currently working through Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’ and don’t have any resistance. (I will do a review when I complete the 12-week program). But to get halfway through a book and get this warning was irritating at best.
But the best was yet to come. I studied University physics. I learned a tiny bit about quantum mechanics. The probabilities of particles being in one place or state at any time is a difficult concept. That things move between states, not in a straight line, but jumping between levels in ‘quantum’ jumps takes some time to accept and understand. This is some hard stuff.
Dr. Dispenza suggests that these jumps can somehow be used by the human mind to communicate to the body and soul. This is pure bunk, and I nearly tossed the book at this point. But I was almost done and felt the need to finish. Mistake.
The final flaw of the book is the blatant way it is meant to goose up sales for the authors program of workshops and seminars. I kept having visions of a Tom Vu advertisement, ‘Take My Seminar’.
Take my advice. Give this book a pass.