Loner (ARC) By Teddy Wayne Review

Disclaimer: I received my DRM protected copy from Netgalley for free of cost in exchange of an honest review so here it is as promised.

Format of review:

  1.  Thoughts
  2. Who I would recommend it to
  3. Product details (Amazon)

 

Image result for Loner Teddy wayne cover

David Alan Federman has Athazagoraphobia: he fears that he will be forgotten. So introverted was he that upon hearing that he was the sole Harvard bound student from the class, his peers were caught by surprise.

It is important to note that his classmates were not taken aback because he wasn’t academically gifted, rather it was since he never expressed himself to an extent which allowed his peers to evaluate his traits fully.

To paint a picture of his mind, one would only need to take a look at his University Application that was unconventionally titled “SDRAWKCAB” which is backwards but only  spelled backwards!

In his mind, it is possible to view the world through a linguistic mirror and challenge fundamental assumptions about the nature of things by asking questions like “why is it an apple and not elppa?”

Unfortunately, the friendship, appreciation, and social status that David was craving for all throughout his highschool life and assumed he would have in Harvard were not readily made available to him in his freshman year of University.

As a result, much of the novel revolves around how he struggles to cope with that identity vacuum which the reader is made aware of previously when David tells us how his yearbook picture for senior year had the caption “Ambition: Fill in later”.

Steven Zenger David’s gregarious roommate who is passionate about Physics helps us realize how David isn’t particularly enthused about any major at the time of enrollment and that he hasn’t set out an academic plan for himself to abide by which adds a touch of uncertainty to the whole experience.

Furthermore, when David tries to interact with two athletic individuals -who are at Harvard for sports- during orientation and fails to impress them with his linguistic mirroring of names both he and the reader realize that some social hierarchies remain regardless of whether it is secondary or tertiary education.

Having said that, one of the most intriguing aspects of the narration is how the Point of view switches/focalization from first person to second person in an unreliable manner whenever David wishes to describe Veronica Morgan Wells -the girl he wishes to court- to the audience.

VMW (Notice how V can be mirrored or inverted to look like M or W) as we can call her in short can do no wrong in the eyes of David who sees in her all the qualities he would love to have and as such she is his gateway into the coveted world of socialites.

To achieve just this, he takes it upon himself to win the affections of Sara who is none other than VMW’s room mate just so he can be closer to VMW. In a way, he gives up a prospective perfectly good life with Sara just so he can check the boxes and rise up the ranks with VMW,  something which is telling of his need to feel accepted in the highest stratum of society.

However, just like David, VMW harbors secrets of her own, and while the novel chronicles the downward spiral of David’s moral fiber it does also evoke a sense of empathy if not shred of pity for the final “reversal and recognition” that occurs.

Put bluntly, Loner is about obsession. Obsession with credentials, social validation, power, and class which all manifest in a person. This is one boy’s arduous journey to find himself or what’s left of it by the end of the process and just how much he is willing to manipulate others to get there.

In retrospect it is painful to watch on as David naively hopes that somewhere in the core of her being VMW is just like him in the sense that  despite appearances both share an inner loneliness of unfathomable magnitude in spite of differences in class and social circles. Being comfortable with our core misery is a form of happiness but David fails to do that as he reaches out for the stars and grabs intangible light which he cannot hold on to.

In the same vein, while on the topic of “personhood” at which point do we surrender our right to moral consideration from a moral community? The readers will face this question as David’s manipulative behavior makes it increasingly difficult to empathize with him when he in turn is given a taste of his own medicine.

With that in mind, the 244 page read is immersive and does describe the Harvard experience well and helps us suspend disbelief through SAT-tier diction which is concomitant of a SAT toppers mind.

That aside, Loner makes us introspect and reflect on how man the “social animal” can move away from an intersubjective state only to be deadlocked in solipsism where the only pain that exists is our own… something that stops us from empathizing with others and understanding them… something David struggles with and perhaps the center of his woes!

Is David irredeemable? Did he attend Harvard for all the wrong reasons? Is blaming the institute and not the society that makes it possible for such instances to occur the right thing to do? Your answers can be found in the book and I recommend you to find them in your own way.

My review: 4/5

Pros:

  • Fantastic diction befitting of a Harvard student
  • Part of being a writer is knowing what to leave out and Ted does this excellently
  • Compelling protagonist who reacts to alienation in a way that is unforgettable
  • Makes us question whether our beings are inherently social or not
  • class distinctions and gender politics were brought up

Cons:

  • To many he may fail to evoke pity or fear instead disgusting them
  • It’s not easy to walk in David’s shoes, at best we can wear only one
  • “You” is lost on readers if they don’t pay close attention to it
  • He strikes us as the kind of guy who we wouldn’t feel to excited to be friends with

I would recommend this book to:

People who feel like they need to be in particular social circles to fulfill their esteem needs and eventually reach self actualization. I also recommend you read about honne and tatamae.

Image result for honne tatemae

If being part of a circle doesn’t feel natural to you, ask yourself why that is. Don’t  be afraid to be yourself by yourself without any externalities like peer pressure weighing down on you!

We don’t choose our race, class, religion, blood group, hair colour, e.t.c upon birth… but we can choose who to surround ourselves with … being happy is an inward power of the soul 🙂

Product Details(Amazon):

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 13, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1501107895
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501107894
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounce

 

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ARC Review (NetGalley): The Yin & Yang Of Climate Crisis

 

Review:

Brendan Kelly goes beyond the typical notion of climate change and synthesizes Chinese Medicine with Planetary well being which is ground breaking to say the least.

Being a debater I’ve often had to face motions related to the environment and had difficulty during cross-currents, but never in my life have I read a book that adds so many layers and dimensions of thought to the concept, its nuance is beyond words.

For those who are passionate about personal health, as well as climate change this book has a transformative potential like no other!

I don’t only give it 5 stars, it deserves 5 supernovas for its illuminating nature.

Synopses(Amazon)

The first book to marry western environmentalism with Chinese medicine, The Yin and Yang of Climate Crisis illustrates the many ways that our personal well-being and climate health are vitally connected. Brendan Kelly demonstrates that crises such as melting ice caps, dying forests, and devastating floods are symptoms of deeper issues, both within us as individuals and within our culture. Informed by Kelly’s experience as a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, this passionate discussion reveals that the current life-threatening severity of climate change speaks to the level of imbalance that exists in the people and institutions responsible for the crisis. Considering issues such as loss of life from increasingly severe storms, stress on farmers from rapidly changing weather, and increasing rates of disease, this book goes on to present hopeful, deep-reaching personal and societal remedies to treat the underlying causes of climate change and to restore our own health.

The Yin and Yang of Climate Crisis blends the external focus of environmentalism–western science, policy issues, regulations–with the internal focus of Chinese medicine–personal health, balancing Qi, diet–to present a holistic view of our interrelationship with the planet. Kelly provides a deeper look at how we’ve gotten to this place of climate destabilization and ways to treat both the symptoms and their root causes. Looking through the lens of Chinese medicine, we are better able to understand that the severity of climate destabilization speaks to deeper philosophical and spiritual issues and provides an opportunity to address our own personal and collective imbalances. With his unique perspective and far-reaching perceptions, Kelly encourages us to translate the reality of our warming planet into an opportunity to ask bigger and deeper questions, including who we are, what we’re here to do, and what promotes health and healing.

Product Details (Amazon):

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books; 1 edition (September 1, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583949518
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583949511
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces

Acrostic Poem: Apathy

*Featured image is an allusion to Naruto (anime) where kakashi is always late -I haven’t posted in a while- and explains his tardiness with that selfsame quote.

Before Eid -a week or so beforehand- it is common for people to buy new apparel. On my way to the shoe store known as BATA I encountered a man with no arms or legs.

He had been in an accident involving a train which did not have a trained safety instructor looking into its many defects, consequently leading to the man’s present state.

My cognitive backlog had built up from hours of ruminating and reading the newspaper for a trace of good news -which still eludes me to this day- but the somber sight of the man with his winning smile in the wake of a life that had known so much defeat jolted me to my senses.

It was then that I observed scores of shoppers vacuously perusing the contents of the shoe store but paying no heed to the lame man. After a good fifteen minutes of silent observation had passed, I paid the man all I had to offer, which to me seemed to be a better investment than a new pair of shoes I would only wear on weekends- most of which I spend indoors, reading or playing co-op games on steam.

*First letter of each line spells apathy…

Appreciation of the simple things of life

Perchance, a feeling lost to man

As it stands, it’s inconsequential to be able to walk or talk

Taken for granted are the things we can do

Have we not chased the appearance of things long enough?

Yearning for this not to be true

Rebirth

 

My rebirth

January 27 2016, I still remembered that day. I was a lonely human with no purpose or meaning in my life (or so I thought) wandering through the sea of darkness helplessly trying to find the light.

No matter how much I ran, it was always like an endless road, soon my strength ebbed away from me and I was lying still with a shattered soul.

Who was I, I couldn’t say, I had lost my personal identity.

My eyes were blinded by hatred; the truth was shrouded in darkness.

I was dead inside.

 

“Enough is enough!” I said to myself. I was driven by insanity, I was burning in anguish.  That fateful decision was  made quickly before time ran out, I knew my days were numbered. I was walking down the path that almost led to my destruction! My fate was sealed.

 

But one day, two angels descended from the Kingdom of light in the form of a human being. Their hearts were clear as a mirror, eyes full of hope. An aura of love surrounded their body. They used the holy light to open my eyes; I could now finally see the truth, even though I am limited in my physical body, I must soar higher in the sky and break every barrier that comes my way.

My world was covered in light once again…

 

*Note: There is no honor in taking your life, always remember this “Live with honor, fight with honor and die with honor”.

Contributed by:

Raihan Musa, a man who doesn’t let limits differentiate him from others, but uses them to illustrate to others that the only one that can set a limit is the individual.

ARC (NetGalley) Review: I Saw An Invisible Lion Today

 

Description:

Quatrain? What kind of train is that? Actually, it’s a poem! Quatrains are poems with patterns of rhyming words. Award-winning author Brian P. Cleary explains how quatrains work—and shows some of the many ways they can be written.

I Saw an Invisible Lion Today is packed with poems on subjects ranging from grandmothers to muzaloos to make you giggle and howl. And when you’ve finished reading, you can try your hand at writing your own poems!

Product Details (Amazon):

 

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Series: Poetry Adventures
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Millbrook Press (April 1, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1467797316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1467797313
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces

 

Review:

Whether or not the Invisible Lion in question is Aslan remains unknown, however, what I do know is that this anthology is clear cut and precise which makes it easy to fathom for children who have not been introduced to the poetic form known as Quatrains.

Not only does Brian P. Cleary clearly illustrate what a Quatrain is, he explores this concept by demonstrating it through various Quatrains of his own making which have different rhyme schemes such as ABCB, AABB, and ABAB. Moreover, he goes as far as to mention that Quatrains can be standalone stanzas or an entire poem in itself.

Furthermore, the contents of this collection of assorted poems are brought to life owing to the adept hand of the illustrator Richard Watson.  I couldn’t think of a better way to broach Quatrains to a layman.

Not to mention, at the conclusion of the book, Brian leaves lots of helpful references to further explore the subject matter and develop a knack for it. I do imagine this will be a helpful handbook in a classroom setting for those charting waters in Quatrains for the first time at an early age.

With this in mind, I do highly recommend this anthology to those in search of an anthology which will serve the dual role of teacher and text.

Rating:

Justification: Ideal for the target audience.

ARC (NetGalley) Review: Leave This Song Behind

 

Description: 

 It’s been 10 years since the last book in the Teen Ink series Written in the Dirt was published. Now, a whole new batch of teen writers has emerged with their own unique voices. Leave This Song Behind features the best poetry submitted by those writers to Teen Ink over the last five years.

The pieces in this book were chosen because they were so powerful that they stood out from the rest. Teen Ink editors took a deep look into each poem’s strengths then divided Leave This Song Behind into seven sections based on the poetic techniques or qualities that moved them most. Vivid sensory details made some poems shine; others caught their attention with simple, sparse language. Still others were chosen because of their thoughtful use of form; compelling stories; strong figurative language; unexpected connections and wit; and fresh writing about familiar topics.

Dig in and let these brave young voices capture your heart and mind with their passion, their pain, and their amazing poetry!

Product Details (Amazon): 

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: HCI; 1 edition (April 26, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0757318967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0757318962
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces

 

Review:

‘Leave This Song Behind’ is an inspired anthology containing at its heart an impressively diverse spectrum of poems. I’d go as far as to wager that there’s something in it for everyone.

For me ‘Write What You Know’ and ‘Fractions’ struck a chord. I could immediately identify with the poetic persona of ‘Write What You Know’ because I too have been struggling for the last year or so with my Pure Mathematics & Statistics class. To put it simply: Mathematics is not my strong suit. I’ve invested countless hours day in day out, week after week, and still flunked the class. As you can imagine the reaction from my academic supervisor and peers was all but understanding, as a result of which their image of me has diminished greatly.

Be that as it may, the academic year as a whole has been fulfilling. I’ve gained ground in debating, Model UN, as well as power point presentations to say nothing of how much I’ve improved in interpersonal relations. As a whole the poem sends the message ‘Stick to what you’re good at and don’t dwell on the things you can’t do’ which is advice that can be appreciated by people of all ages.

With this in mind, when one feels like the poetic persona of ‘Fractions’ that is to say “One third of a person” at 3 AM in the night, the positive mindset embodied within ‘Write What You Know’ can be of use.

In a word, it will be hard to “Leave This Song Behind” as it has had an impact on me that is rather difficult to put into words, but it is always a nice feeling to see the youth invigorated and given an opportunity to voice themselves.

Rating:

 

Pythagorean Cup

 

What if happiness is contained inside a Pythagorean cup? Overflowing happiness would then simply drain away and empty the cup completely. This is why it is important to listen to Mr. Micawber’s advice and live within our means.

Similarly, if we apply the same concept to knowledge, it would be difficult to learn if one were to be satisfied with a certain level of knowledge or overestimate themselves. According to the Dunning-Kruger effect relatively unskilled persons suffer from an illusory superiority as a result of a meta-cognitive inability to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their ability accordingly instead of letting ideas/perceptions stagnate.