Friday, February 01, 2008

The Nurse in the Delivery Room Slapped Me... Once by D Anthony

Book Review by Zinta Aistars

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Beckham Publications Group, 2007
Price: $14.95
ISBN-10: 0931761255
ISBN-13: 978-0931761256

Whenever I receive a review copy of a book with the request to write a critical overview, my first thought, especially with non-fiction such as this, is to ask what new insight does this book bring?

I've read a great many positive attitude and manifest-your-own-destiny books by now (one of the most popular today in this vein is "The Secret," although I am not a fan of this one either for its over-simplification). My personal favorite in the general area of improving one's attitude toward life is Martha Beck's "Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live," and I highly recommend it.

Holding Beck's work as something of a standard to meet or beat, D Anthony's oddly titled "The Nurse in the Delivery Room Slapped Me ... Once" slips several levels lower. Quite simply, the author brings us nothing we haven't heard already ad nauseum in any positive outlook seminar or infomercial or documentary on turning your life around and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. To make a quality contribution, he must either add something new or at very least say it in a new way. Alas, he does neither.

Glass is half full, got it. Count your blessings, check. Life is what you make of it, of course. Appreciate your loved ones while they are still living, indeed. Watch the handicapped and otherwise challenged for clues of why you are so lucky, oh dear. All of this, sound rationale as it might be, gets old fast. The latter (check out the challenged to feel blessed) teeters on patronizing. The several doting-on-mother chapters are several too many. One story on how much the author misses his deceased mother is enough to honor her ... and us. We have many fine books on the market today that state the same message and do it in fresher style, more organized manner, more lively language.

That would be my glass a bit more than half empty on this 219-page (too many) book. No, wait. The interspersed poetry. Bad. Really bad. The book would do much better to cut these entirely.

"Have you ever wished you could begin anew
To experience the things you always wanted to
To make sure each day in someway [sic] you grew
To accomplish big things, and small ones too"

Anything left in my glass after sloshing that down? On the positive side, D Anthony is, well, seemingly a really nice guy. Lots of heart, lots of positive outlook, surely makes a great friend if not a great writer. I'm betting if I met him, I'd really like him. But most of what I liked in this book was all readily available and compact within the first few pages; perhaps this should have been one essay rather than a drawn-out collection. In the "Born to Lead" section he sums it all up:

"When we consistently focus on the best, expect the best, strive for the best, are our best, and combine that expectation with appropriate effort, the odds are good that the best outcomes will befall us. Conversely, if we focus, expect, or strive for anything less, regardless of the extent of our associated effort, the odds are almost certain that the resulting opportunities and outcomes will duly reflect those limited expectations." (pg. 19)

It's a good message. I will not argue its validity. I am convinced of its truth from my own experience, adding only that bad things sometimes happen to very positive people, but positive people refuse to be stopped by bad things and go on to find their glory. Their eyes rarely drop from the horizon they seek, and so their steering in life remains true, regardless of circumstance.

All the positive thinking in the world, however, does not an excellent book create. Excellent writing and editing will accomplish that. D Anthony has a good message, but it has been delivered many times already and far better by others. His task, I would think, would be to find the message only he can tell, in a way that is only his, and write that.

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