Author du Jour: Diane Shainberg

ChasingElephants-Cover-small-10-09-10Chasing Elephants, ” by Diane Shainberg

(Book Case Engine, P 190, $4.99)

Fifteen years have elapsed since the first publication of “Chasing Elephants.” With insight, it is always easy to see the remarkable achievement of overlooked if not often the consistent neglect and plight of before-their-time books. It is a delight to see this book reprinted today, not so much to bring justice to a groundbreaking work but also to disseminate the importance of Diane Shainberg‘s ideas.

What are those precursory ideas? Fifteen years is not a long time and, yet it is a good benchmark to be able to accept, dismiss, or follow the evolution and impact of one lifework. Given the demonstrated climate, economic, and humanitarian crisis already unraveling at our doorsteps, the work appears properly time to exercise its wisdom. More than ever a new global consciousness is needed if we want to avoid, once again, catastrophic decisions and outcome, based on outdated models. We must think in terms of totality, implying that it is paramount that we create a new global awareness and consciousness. We must write the integral trends for the future, the complex nexus of interrelatedness, cross-fields and pluri or multi-disciplines. The elaboration of this new consciousness however starts with each of us. Before going global, we must not only think local but learn to develop this awareness ourselves, on our own. No one but our self is responsible, and no one can bypass this work. No shortcut exists. After the work is done, the multiplicity of our new single consciousness will create the totality the world needs. An ambitious program from which we cannot turn a blind eye.

While “Chasing Elephants” does not aspire to such a broad scope, Shainberg‘s writing clearly points into this direction. It advocates for the first step necessary for personal healing, a crucial step if we want to contribute to the new consciousness without reliving or reenacting the wounds of the past in complete blindness, falling back into our personal trenches. The Elephants only stay in the room as long as we need them. Once we see them, they are no longer needed and take a leave of absence.  This is the inspiring journey Diane Shainberg takes us on.  With heart-wrenching anecdotes, case-studies, first-row testimonies, without shying away from her own struggles and suffering, she ushers us on the road to freedom and peace. Without forgetting that along the way, during her long journey into the world of Buddhist, she reminds us that compassion stands as our best companion.

Author du Jour: Jennifer Noonan

No-Map-to-This-Country-smallNo Map to this Country” by Jennifer Noonan.

(Da Capo/Life Long Books, p 316, $19.99)

This book is about the “A-Word.” A could stand for Atomic, since explosion is implied, but in this case it is about autism. Autism is a trend that keeps on gaining momentum, and its label, once inflicted on a child, reverberates as a social suicide for families. The merit of Jennifer Noonan’s journey is precisely to expose the daily struggle families with autistic children must live through, bringing her resourceful personality to the front.

When her son was diagnosed, like most parents, she found herself entering a world, she was unprepared for, a world laden with misinformation and guidance. Her struggle was not to investigate the whys but rather to locate the unique abilities and challenges of her child to change his plight.

No Map to this Country,” captures the initial sense of despair watching her child scream and spin, while feeling powerless to help, to her decision to put a stop to it. Gathering her own information, leading an endless crusade, she tackles the world of dietary, immunology, and metabolic research, and so to unveil a treatment fit for her son. She began experimenting with alternative diets, supposed to be beneficial to autistic children. I will not reveal whether she succeeded, but her journey allowed her to sound her limitations. With stark frankness and uncanny humor, Noonan narrates how through a six-year ordeal and with determination, she managed to rescue her own family from implosion. Autism not only impacts children but families above all.

Author du Jour: Susan Strecker

Nowhere-Girl-smallNowhere Girl,” by Susan Strecker

(Thomas Dunne Books, P 297, $ 25.99)

A sophomore book for Susan Strecker after her elegiac and biographical debut novel “Night Blindness,” which appeared on a TV episode of Books du Jour last season. In “Nowhere Girl,” Susan has lost none of her engaging style, although this time, her voice takes on a fantasy tone, which at times makes this moving novel swing between a thriller and a woman-in-jeopardy story. But because the story focuses on the main protagonist’s rumination (not too much cop, not too much ghost) it remains a novel, albeit a suspense-ridden one.

Cady Martino, the main protagonist, has a twin sister, Savannah, a popular girl who, one night, is found murdered. The police at once classified the murder as a “random attack of opportunity.” However, Cady never stops hearing from her sister. Savannah keeps sending her messages that make no sense. Years later, Cady, now a bestselling author of suspense, makes a chance encounter, which gives her the missing piece of the puzzle of all the messages. But in order to solve her sister’s murder, Cady must now cross a maze of betrayals and deceptions dating back to their youth.

Author du Jour: Eric Geissinger

Virtual-Billions_cover-smallVirtual Billions,” by Eric Geissinger.

(Prometheus Books, P 295, $25.00)

This is the book that will explain to you what is Bitcoin and how they came to be, if you only have heard about them and thought it was just another App. If you are looking for a roller-coaster ride in the underworld of alternative finance, Virtual Billions is the book as well.  You will learn about the reclusive genius creator of Bitcoins, Satoshi Nakamoto, who, on his own, decided to wage war against the world financial and banking system, and the prince of darkness himself, Ross Ulbricht, who used Bitcoins to create the largest Dark Web superstore, Silk Road, where drugs, hacking service, counterfeit money and even murdering could be purchased. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Geissenger tells the story of the multi-talented Winklevoss twins, Harvard, Olympics, lawsuit against Facebook’s Zuckerberg, for stealing their idea (which they won), and their contribution to the rise of the Bitcoin cause.

Putting Virtual Billions down was impossible, the stories being so captivating and strangely unique in their excesses. The fact that this parallel banking world has fueled legions of steroid-pumped-up coding hacks, and “canny” bitcoin miners, added to my curiosity. For certain, the book will make you feel like a dinosaur, especially if your job consists in reading books, and on paper that is. The world of bitcoins is so far from my consciousness that I could not help pondering what kind of world is taking shape out there. Once you put the book down, you may catch yourself looking at your neighbors suspiciously, cautious before making another online purchase or placing another call on your smartphone, or else grateful that, at long last, after the banks took the country down the path of the Dust Bowl, that some individuals are doing something to replace them.