Maurice Kanbar. Council Oaks, $22.95 (208p) ISBN 1-57178-099-8

Told with verve, this delightful tale of a restless, curious inventor and entrepreneur is packed with practical advice for creative endeavors. Kanbar's 36 successful inventions (from various medical devices to Skyy vodka and the D-Fuzz-It Sweater and Fabric Combr ) all started with difficulties anyone might encounter: hangovers, accidents with hypodermic needles, fuzzballs on sweaters. In each case, Kanbar knew nothing about the problem he set out to solve. Unlike many inventors, who hand off their ideas at an early stage through licensing agreements, Kanbar has often set up businesses to market his products and stayed involved in every detail along the way. He takes the reader on engaging journeys from initial conception to research, implementation, testing, refinement, legal protection, packaging, distribution and marketing. General readers will enjoy these unaffected stories of a straightforward, successful guy. Would-be inventors and anyone engaged in independent creative activity will benefit from the distilled aphorisms ("Thou Shalt Not Bullshit Thyself") and no-nonsense information. It's a rare author who can end his foreword with "I look forward to reveling in your success" and make the reader believe it. With the help of a $50,000 marketing campaign, Kanbar (the publisher of Council Oaks books) is supporting this book with the same care that he's brought to marketing his other products. While none of his inventions, except for Skyy vodka, are household names, would-be inventors will find both inspiration and beneficial tips in his affable guide. (Jan.)