The Exquisite Risk: Daring to Live an Authentic Life

Mark Nepo, Author
Mark Nepo, Author Harmony $21 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4000-5177-9
Reviewed on: 01/31/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-307-42200-2
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-283-99812-3
Paperback - 290 pages - 978-0-307-33584-5
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Books concerning spiritual awakening after a near-death experience tend naturally to be self-centered, and Nepo's book is no exception. The 53-year-old writer and motivational speaker (The Book of Awakening) suffered from cancer, which he survived with the help of his wife of 20 years. While undergoing treatment, he refused to allow panic to influence his decisions, thus avoiding some radical and dangerous procedures, which threatened his life almost as much as the disease itself. In this memoir, the poet elaborates upon his difficult journey, offering sage advice gleaned from incidental experiences and the work of other spiritual leaders. Clearly, Nepo is a sensitive observer, but his prose tends toward gauzy, inflated metaphors and long, self-flattering passages. Remembering the time a dentist gave him a root canal, for example, Nepo writes, ""Though his eyes were intent on the thin canals inside my tooth, I saw behind his focus to his soft place. It was there that we'd known each other deeply, though we'd never met."" Elsewhere, he instructs readers that, ""like a stone rippling in a lake, the heart of our being dropped softly into any moment will ripple us into the mystery of everything,"" and declares, ""I was born to say what my father couldn't, to face what he's turned from."" The transformational saga of Nepo's cancer treatment does indeed highlight the wonders of life and human relations, but Nepo's convoluted writing doesn't do justice to his painful, joyful reality.
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