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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book Review: Monkey Mind by Daniel B. Smith

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety - Daniel B. Smith

This memoir didn't quite do it for me. The writing was competent enough; and the characterization of a few key characters -- namely the woman the author had his first sexual encounter with and his mother -- were fleshed out well, but the others, including the love of the author's life, fell flat. As someone who has a basic understanding of and some experience with anxiety, this memoir didn't really bring much new to the table. A few especially vivid anecdotes -- Daniel's first sexual experience, the way he used to listen to his mother's client's through the bedroom vent -- were very vivid and compelling. But much of the book felt tangential. It seemed to have no single organizational principle; it wasn't really organized chronologically and may have been organized topically, but transitions between different parts were so weak that I often found myself wondering how we got from the trials and tribulations of being a fact checker (which, as a former magazine staff fact checker is not at all as horrendous as Daniel makes it out to be) to accusations of libel (which were never fully explored). Truth be told, I found a lot more to criticize about this book than to like, but it was not altogether horrible enough to earn lower than a three-star rating. Still, I was unimpressed enough that I found myself wondering whether the blog, written by a psychologist, that originally pointed me toward the book might have been getting a bit of a kickback for recommending it.