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From Barnes & NobleOur Reviews
"My philosophy celebrates living authentically," explains Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of the bestselling Simple Abundance books. In her new volume, A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance, Ban Breathnach realizes this philosophy once more by collecting more than 50 essays that describe men's experience. Each essay focuses on a different aspect of men's lives, but each speaks truly about what men know.
What men know, of course, is a lot. In A Man's Journey, we find essays about everything from family to solitude, from work to diversion. Editor Michael Segell, best known for his "Men's Mind" column in Esquire magazine, sorts these essays into general sections that, put together, describe every man's passage. The essays trace men's origins, struggles, duties, dreams, philosophies, and hobbies. They form a blurred map to a man's world.
But though the book as a whole describes every man's journey, each essay insists on the singularity of one man's path. The essays are unselfconscious, open -- authentic. In "A Broken Heart," for example, writer Charles Siebert details his father's death in terms as personal as they are blunt. He writes: "I realized that for the sake of the brave, quietly dignified man in the room behind me, I should start to get a grip. I remember actually asking him at one point in the throes of my heart hysteria how he did it, how he lived from day to day knowing how frail his heart was. 'Well,' he said, looking a bit startled by his clever son's fatuousness, 'what choice do I have?' " Siebert's quiet depiction of failure -- the failure of his father's heart, the failure of his own empathy -- moves us more than treacly heroism ever could. His experience is unique and rings true.
A Man's Journey includes the reflections of many such startling writers. But it also includes the notes and ruminations of nonwriters. Millard Fuller, the millionaire who founded Habitat for Humanity, provides a plainspoken account of his life's lowest point. Dr. Charles Simonyi, an elite programmer at Microsoft, enthuses about the moment in which he understood order. And Sting, the musician and songwriter, offers a genuine, understated history of his life's risks. "True risk, that sudden leap into cold water, can carry you into a state of grace," he explains. "Coincidences, synchronicity, chance, karmic charm, it doesn't matter what you call it; there's a positive force that intervenes to cover your back. Things click. It makes sense because true risk is the only thing that forces spiritual and emotional growth so immediately, so dramatically."
The men whose essays appear here speak from widely divergent perspectives. But each speaks honestly, authentically, about the experiences that form him. In collecting these essays, Sarah Ban Breathnach and Michael Segell have created an outline of men's journeys that acknowledges the specificity of each man’s path. It's a collection worth reading for its breadth and scope -- and for its singular, startling passages.
Some men tend to keep their distance from self-help books for fear that the advice will be too "touchy-feely" and attempt to force them to go against who they are. With that in mind, Sarah Ban Breathnach, bestselling author of the Simple Abundance series, has created a book just for men: A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance. This latest work is a compendium of essays by men about men, and it's designed both for men and for women who are interested in a better understanding of the world men live in today.
The contributors are a varied lot, and there is a diversity of careers represented: from rock stars to writers to professional hunters. There are six sections to this book, with essays by such luminaries as Roy Blount Jr., Harold Evans, Rick Bass, Tim Cahill, and Sting.
The pieces range from thoughtful to humorous, with such topics as "Fathers to the Community" and "Ten Things I Hope My Kids Learn Sooner Than I Did." There are also essays about work, money, success, and, of course, those mysterious creatures, women.
With this enriching collection, everyone can find something to treasure in each essay.
Jennifer J. Jarett is a freelance writer living in New York City.