Book Review – Apr./May 2011

necessary endingsNecessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move On
Author: Dr. Henry Cloud
Publisher: HarperBusiness, 2010 ???
Pages: 256
ISBN: 978-0-061777-12-7

Reviewed by Terri Schlichenmeyer

In the past three years, you?ve lost business; maybe your job, clients, investments, money and opportunity; and maybe even your house and your confidence, too. But there?s still fight in you and things are looking up. Now is the time to examine your losses by reading Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud, Psy.D.?

Endings, says Dr. Cloud, are a part of the universe. You literally can?t move through life without any endings because growth demands it. So when endings are forced upon you ? like the loss of job or client ? it?s important to understand how to deal with them by redefining the definitions of ?positive? and ?negative.? It helps to look at them as a ?season.?? When things end through no fault of your own, it was the ?season? to move on. But what if the decision is yours? Cloud likens endings to a rosebush. When a gardener prunes, he cuts off healthy buds and branches as well as sick and dead ones. Smart businesspeople are like that gardener: they can spot a branch of the company that is doing well, but that isn?t the best place to spend energy or funds. They can see if an ailing arm of the corporation will get better or not. They can spot dead wood. And they have the courage to strategically prune all three. ?It?s been said that some things die,? says Cloud, ?and some things need to be killed.? Look for ?the moment,? he says, when you know you need to make change. Come to grips with the truth and learn to recognize when you get stuck or experience misery that can be alleviated by change. Understand that sometimes, things end. Get hopeless. Learn how to transfer ?need? back to the one who really needs. Stay close to the pain. Know that you may not be able to control change, but you can control your response to it.

Though most of Necessary Endings is written from the active side of endings (being the ender and not the endee), its words are the soothing balm that readers may need. What?s most helpful about this book is that, if you?re experiencing loss, Cloud helps you to understand that endings aren?t the end of the world. And if you?re the one who?s urging the finish, he explains how to evaluate situations with an eye toward reality and move from pain to plug pulling.??? ?

open cityOpen City
By Teju Cole
Random House, February 2011
$25, 259 pp.

Teju Cole?s debut novel is a beautifully written and meditative story that examines self-identity and memory. The open city that serves as Cole?s backdrop is New York, post 9/11. Julius is a young doctor who is about to complete his psychiatry fellowship at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. The son of an African father who is deceased and a German mother with whom he estranged, Julius, recently split with his girlfriend, has strong solitary feelings. As he crisscrosses the urban landscape of Manhattan and has encounters with a former professor, an inmate in a Queens detention center, and a Haitian bootblack, Julius contemplates the meanings of aloneness and thus his place in the world. He finds solace in art, literature and classical music during his reflective moments. Part of the charm of Open City is Cole?s composed and honest manner of expressing ideals about social and critical thought through his cast of characters. Another alluring element of the novel is that Cole presents the action and dialogue as if Julius were sharing entries from his diary, which gives the story an unexpected and rewarding intimate nature.

The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934 ? 1960
By Lawrence P. Jackson
Princeton University Press, December 2010
$35, 608 pp.

Most people are familiar with the artistic and literary achievements that define the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s and the Black Arts Movement, which took place between 1965 and 1975. But what about the pioneering endeavors that took place during the decades in between those two recognizable artistic periods? In this critical history, Lawrence P. Jackson, a professor of English and African American Studies at Emory University, has written a comprehensive work about African-American writers who ?moved the United States away from the cultural practices and attitudes of segregation and in the direction of a multiracial democracy.? The Indignant Generation provides a context for understanding the cultural, political and social landscape as well as the challenges faced by Black writers such as J. Saunders Redding, Ann Petry, Claude McKay and many others who made significant contributions to Black literary history yet have often been overlooked and underappreciated.
?Reviewed by Clarence V. Reynolds