Title: The Paul Society
Author: Jonathan Clark
Length: 210 pages
The Rundown Federal Deficits. National Debt. Sequestration. Stimulus. Tax Policy. Sovereign Debt.
No, you haven’t accidently stumbled into the Financial Times website. Occasionally, we at Underground Book Reviews put down our novels and short stories and swerve into the oft-neglected lane of independently published non-fiction. Today, we look at Jonathan Clark’s debut book, The Paul Society
, a primer explaining the current fiscal crisis.
From the internet to the nightly news, one can’t avoid the reality that western governments are drowning in debt. Regarding the United States, The Paul Society
boldly asks one question: Why? The question itself is a lightning rod for controversy. Like aloe over a burn, Clark coolly and unemotionally tries to remove the passion from the subject, replacing it with fact. The Paul Society
is well researched, logically organized, and employs many real-world examples. It feels like Clark is sitting across the kitchen table with a cup of coffee, calmly explaining why America’s fiscal situation is so messed up. Cool and calm, yes, but never boring, TPS
is a perfect book for someone new to the subject. TPS
divides federal spending into different buckets, such as welfare, healthcare, defense
and subsidies. For a given “bucket” Clark details how congress converts taxpayer money to influence, influence to power, power to spending, and spending into more votes. Clark sorts out the powerful players, from corporate lobbyists, to unions, to special interest groups. In each bucket Clark keeps coming back to the same theme: The root of the problem is corrupt and entrenched politicians, unaccountable lobbyist, and an apathetic (or complicit) electorate. One thing Clark doesn’t do, however, is get partisan.
To be blunt, I expected this book to be a run-of-the-mill right-wing rant against big government. It wasn’t. Clark ignores that trap and instead dispassionately indicts both political parties, showing under the surface they often have the same agenda – convert taxpayer money into personal wealth and power. If you put a group of Tea Partiers and Occupiers in the same room and made them read this book, they might stop yelling at one another and find they have much in common. Clark clearly identifies the enemy and, in my opinion, that makes The Paul Society
Corporate executive, small business owner and entrepreneur, Clark possesses a great deal of credibility. He never raises his voice and makes his case so logically even a Vulcan would smile. At only 210 pages, The Paul Society
keeps moving and is never boring. More importantly, Clark offers hope. His answers are not easy, but ones most American’s can get behind. They start with getting informed and then getting involved, both of which begin with reading The Paul Society
. Jonathan Clark Links:
The Paul Society on Amazon
Jonathan Clark's Blog
Facebook If you enjoyed this review follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook and Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter. You can also follow Brian Braden on
his blog, Facebook and Twitter and buy his books, Black Sea Gods or Carson's Love.
TITLE: Confessions of an Edgy Suburban Mom AUTHOR:
Pam Grimes GENRE:
Humerus non-fiction PUBLISHER:
Ned Books LENGTH:
134 pages (print)THE RUNDOWN
Buckle up and hang on tight for a raucous road trip through the wilds of suburban Portland. Fantastically funny tour guide Pam Grimes compares reading her Confessions of an Edgy Suburban Mom
to rubber-necking at a car accident . . . “in this case the car happens to be the ’burbs and the accident happens to be my life.” She delivers a candid, laugh-out-loud look at marriage, parenthood and survival in the place she and her husband reluctantly decided to call home.
Grimes masterfully intertwines childhood memories, where she says she “never felt quite as perfect” as her surroundings, with her experiences as a wife, mother of three boys and owner of a dog who brings the family “celebrity and attention none of us were prepared for” in canine-crazy Portland. Her observations are fearlessly refreshing -- from describing how “Little League season descended upon my family like a rabid sewer rat from hell; aggressive, relentless and intent upon eating its young. . .” to a paper towel incident realization that “advertising agencies saw the suburban mom as a moronic, lobotomized clean-freak with nothing more pressing on her mind than the desire for a truly sparkling stovetop. If that was who I had become, then lay my head in the oven and crank me up to crispy.”
Unashamed to admit that as a 12 year-old she found Mr. Spock sexy (“Our icons were flawed and rough around the edges, imperfect like the rest of us.”), Grimes is also up front about dealing with perpetually inebriated neighbors, her painful “visit” to Brazil (a.k.a. The Wax Shack), a batty experience with the witch next door and the challenges her alter ego, Samantha Nevada, faces in a pole dancing class.
There are also poignant moments – like food-poisoned induced clarity of what matters most in a marriage and the wonders of a road trip where unplugging from technology allowed her family to plug back into each other. Thankfully, Grimes doesn’t saccharine-soak tender moments like her unexpected “We would always have the mall” euphoria where she shares “for a brief moment in time, on a damp winter morning in the middle of suburbia at a mid-mall kiosk, that was all the paradise I could want.” THE RECOMMENDATION
Read it and weep – from laughing with abandon. With witty, honest storytelling, Grimes holds a mirror up to her own life to give us a glimpse of our own, showing us why she believes, “After all, the important thing isn’t where you end up; it’s making the leap that counts.” It’s no surprise that Confessions
was a Shirley You Jest st
andout, winning second place non-fiction honors.LINKS
Buy it on Amazon
Visit Pam's website
Visit Yvonne's website
Title: Married or . . . Merry? Or, The international Greek Book of Marriage or 40 Plus Reasons Not To Get Married. Author: Kate Papas
Genre: humor, satire
Publisher: Self- published Summary: Love is in the air. Today is the day you’ve dreamed about all your life. You glide down the aisle to Mendelssohn’s Wedding March towards the man of your dreams. The church is filled as two star-crossed lovers’ eyes meet and repeat the words “I do.” Oh blissful, happy day when two shall come together as one.
Whoa! Stop the organ music! According to Kate Papas’s Married or . . . Merry? you'd best turn on your heels, pick up your long white gown and run as fast as you can! Ms. Papas is happy to inform you that your wedding day is the last day of bliss you’ll ever know until . . . the divorce is final. What led Kate Papas to write Married or . . . Merry? Surely it wasn’t for the sake of condoning marriage. According to Kate, instead of becoming angry about the state of her native Greece, she turned to writing humor. “It is bitter and sad. It's a nightmare, no one could imagine that would happen to Greeks and to our beautiful country,” Kate writes in an e-mail, “we have a fabulous past (our ancient history) and a miserable present.” In the first 40 days after the book was released in Greece, 2,000 copies were sold. After 7,000 copies were purchased, Kate decided to translate Married or . . . Merry? into English and send it across the Atlantic.
Quote: Reason Number Six entitled: “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery, (Mosaic Law; 7th Commandment) “In my opinion this is the most inapplicable, unattainable and unrealistic commandment. Purely utopian! For god’s sake, my friends! Do you think it possible not to commit adultery, not even once, in your life not even mentally, not even in your imagination? (for that counts, alas!) And whoever claims that is it possible is either: 1. A pathological liar 2. Totally inexperienced 3. Extremely naïve 4. Very recently married!” Opinion: Married or . . . Merry? is brilliantly written using quotes and sayings from comedians to philosophers, Bible verses and commandments as a premise for each rule. This book of only l7,000 words will take those of us who have been, or are married, on a laughable journey into “I’ve-been-there-land” for at least one, if not numerous reasons. Satire sweeps every page that range from matrimony being harmful to your health, to the notion that you need another person to become whole when you were already whole to begin with. I could actually envision this performed by on stage by a comedian as making fun of real-life situations is the basis of great comedy. Recommendation: NOT for those who do not enjoy reading rebuttals of Biblical doctrine. I recommend the book to those light-hearted enough to enjoy the humor and pitfalls of every marriage. Oh, in answer to your question, yes, Ms. Papas is married. TOP PICK: 5 star ratingLinks: Find it on Amazon
Like it on FacebookFollow Kate Papas on Twitter
Name: Tales From Tavanti: An American Woman’s Mid-Life Adventures In Italy
Author: Rebecca Bricker
When her only son left for college, Rebecca Bricker went out the door after him. She sold her home, sold most of her possessions and bought a ticket to Italy. Tales From Tavanti
is the memoirs of a single, middle-aged woman who throws caution to the wind and follows her dream.
While is admirable that Ms. Bricker moved to Italy where she knew no one, rented an apartment on Via Tavanti street in Florence, I would classify this work of memoirs as a diary, not a novel.
Having no real purpose except to experience Italy, meet a few men, and write a book about her adventures, Tales From Tavanti
has far too many characters and way too many places for a reader to find any real connection.
As in any book, non-fiction or fiction, the reader will always judge the characters. We don’t like the protagonist because he’s mean or unfeeling, or we feel deeply connected to a caring person who is abused. When the main character is you, then you have just opened yourself up to be judged. This is a chance the writer takes.
As a mother and a daughter of aging parents, I found it difficult to identify with Ms. Bricker. With her only son leaving the nest for his first year in college, a mother rapidly declining with Alzheimer’s disease, and father having a difficult time making decisions, it seemed untimely to pick up and leave the country for a year.
Even more disturbing was Ms. Bricker’s affair with a good-looking, charming Italian. The drama weaved in and out of the story reading more like a teenager looking for love in all the wrong places than an experienced, middle-aged woman.
Yet another issue with this book is honesty. I didn’t ‘feel’ gut-level honesty. If honesty isn’t a writer’s sixth sense, the work is not believable. I wanted to identify with the pain of saying good-bye to a home of some 20 years, the fear of leaving a son, still a teenager who is leaving home for the first time, the pain of watching the slow death of a parent with Alzheimer’s. Overall, the adventure seemed an escape from the hardships each of us face somewhere in our lifetime. In reality, however, there is no real escape.
Ms. Bricker’s credentials states she is a freelance writer and has written for People’s Magazine. She has been a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, but for what reason is not stated.
I did not give Tales From Tavanti
a rating as I do not feel it is a novel, but a diary Ms. Bricker’s friends and family would enjoy.Visit Rebecca's websiteIf you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Nancy Johnston is the author of Disentangle: When You’ve Lost Yourself in Someone Else, a self-help book aimed towards people who easily become tangled up in relationships. Nancy is a professional counselor, with 35 years of experience in the world of dysfunctional relationships. Her publishing story, from inspiration to publication, is both unique and inspiring.
Disentangle emphasizes the need to face unhealthy delusions and set healthy boundaries. While Nancy’s advice is aimed towards romantic relationships, it could be applied to many situations. Her book reminds us that it is easy for to become entangled in many different aspects of our life, whether the entanglement involves romantic relationships, co-workers, family or addiction.
I arranged to meet Nancy in her office, just outside the historic town of Lexington, VA. Nancy’s office is orderly and peaceful. Her window looks into a patch of woods, where a small deer is grazing. Nancy tells me that she tries to be quiet so as not to scare the deer away, but this proves to be a difficult task. Every time she laughs, the deer looks up at us, and we sit in silence for a moment, hoping it won’t run off.
Nancy is full of energy and enthusiastic about explaining her book, her practice, and her passions. I came with a fixed set of questions, but the conversation flowed freely.
Nancy’s career was always psychology oriented. She studied psychology at an undergraduate level at William and Mary, then went on to graduate school knowing that what she wanted to do was work directly with people. That dream has come true.
“Even after all these years I’m still really interested in psychology. Everybody’s got a different story, so actually that’s part of it: that I’m with people and their stories all day, all the time. Stories that are mysteries to us in some cases.”
After finishing graduate school, Nancy went into the field of juvenile corrections, and realized that a majority of the legal charges she encountered in her clients’ histories were drug or alcohol related. This led her to explore the field of addictions further. However, in the professional world at the time, “addictions were always a step child to mental health.” Over time, though, more people began working towards integrating the two concepts. “Until we can help a person stop their addictive behaviors I can’t psychologically see what else is going on with them. I don’t know what their sleep problems are about or what their mood shifts are about.”
“In the process of doing all that I got very personally and professionally interested in the family of the addict, which is the whole field of codependence: How does the family member or other friends play into addiction?How do we enable it and what do we get out of doing that? A lot of that happened in 1990 and there was really excellent work going on with adult children of alcoholics. The topic of codependence was just emerging, and there was a great book called Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood that came out in the 80’s. People were really interested in these topics so I started running groups that worked with the issues of codependence.”