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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 41.
- Review Date: 2009-06-08
- Reviewer: Staff
While Bell's books Velvet Elvis and Sex God received generally strong reviews, this effort to understand the relationship between suffering and creativity feels superficial and overly self-conscious. Few readers will dispute Bell's gentle assertions: that life can be extremely difficult and capricious, that it is often difficult to find God amid suffering, that suffering has a great potential to unify disparate people, and that great bursts of creative energy can arise from pain. Bell explores these issues not by covert biblical exegesis—which was a surprising and welcome highlight of Velvet Elvis—but new-fashioned storytelling. Bell weaves inspiring stories of people who turned their suffering into something transformative, and many of these stories are memorable. They are certainly accessible: Bell draws from fiction, movies, real-life situations and his own life. These anecdotes do not make a book, however, and Bell's spare prose lacks original insights into age-old theodicy questions. Although the design and layout are first-rate, $35 is a lot of money for a 160-page book that is mostly white space. (Aug.)