Wednesday, September 24, 2014

REVIEW: Confessions of a Self-Help Writer

Confessions of a Self-Help Writer
Benjamin W DeHaven

Genre: Self-Help & Psychology, Satire, Coming of Age, Humor
Publisher: Lagniappe Publishing
Publication date: 7.1.2014
Pages: 176

Date read: 9.23.2014
Recommended by: Worldwind Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Amazon link: Confessions of a Self-Help Writer

Summary: Lunge into a funny, audacious, and devastating work of fiction based on factual events.  As much a comedy as a tragedy, "Confessions is a unique piece of literature to be remembered for its originality as much as for its significance as a statement about living life in today's harsh reality."  Explore the psyche of one of the world's most profound advisors: a Quixotic adventurer who admits freely to lurid depravity, substance abuse, and emotional complexity.  Despite personal demons, he's fooled adherents into unique reverence and might be responsible for saving more souls than Mother Teresa and Gandhi combined.
            Hypocrite isn't a strong enough word for someone who writes self-help books purely for profit.  Two of the world's ten wealthiest used Enzo as a ghostwriter and while they attribute their sales in life to Enzo's words, not a single one willingly admits to knowing him.
            DeHaven, a patsy in Enzo's schemes and a recurring voice, shares his own perspective and often times paints himself in a very negative light, which adds a layer of credibility to such a fantastical story.  Brief moments of compassion and insight are even more powerful and poignant from this perspective.
            The most disheartening admission presented is that Enzo would only fall back on his tremendous gift, of writing self-help, as a last act to pay debtors and sustain a ridiculous lifestyle.  The reader of "Confessions" is forced to question DeHaven's motivation in publishing this journal.  Does he truly want to ruin Enzo's legacy or is this an act of love?  Reaching out to someone who is still lost.  Enzo, wherever you are, pick up a self-help book and give it a read.  Who knows, you may have written it.

When I was asked if I wanted to give this book a read for an up-coming blog tour, I really wasn't sure.  I have this thing for self-help books (a not-so-secret passion) and comedy/satire is an iffy thing for me - sometimes I find it hilarious and sometimes I find no humor in it at all.  After thinking about it for a few days, I decided to give it a try ... and I'm glad that I did.

This book was funny, in an odd-funny sort of way.  And at the same time, it made you think - about the self-help genre as a whole AND about your own personal issues as you read through a journal that Enzo kept, a journal that was turned over to DeHaven by Enzo's wife after his disappearance.  I like when authors use the "journal" as a way of writing their story.  I feel like, if done correctly, it really allows you to get a deeper understanding of the character that's writing because everyone shares more with their journal than they are willing to share with the people around them.  Add in clips from different books that he penned, and it makes for an interesting read, whether you're a believer in the self-help hype drivel or not.

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