Anxiety has always been part of Mark Salzman’s life: He was born into a family as nervous as rabbits, people with extra angst coded into their genes. As a young man he found solace through martial arts, meditation, tai chi, and rigorous writing schedules, but as he approaches midlife, he confronts a year of catastrophe. First, Salzman suffers a crippling case of writer’s block; then a sudden family tragedy throws his life into chaos. Overwhelmed by terrifying panic attacks, the author begins a search for equanimity that ultimately leads to an epiphany from a most unexpected source.
The Man in the Empty Boat is a witty and touching account of a skeptic’s spiritual quest, a story of one man’s journey to find peace as a father, a writer, and an individual.
This is a ruminatory memoir and approaches a few metaphysical issues. I loved that part, and related to the author's struggles. If you are looking for the family dysfunctions and conversational digressions contained in many memoirs this book won't work for you.
But as I was downloading the book it occurred to me that the narrator has not been one of my favorites. It's a totally subjective thing, on my part - some listeners love this guy. But as expected, I found the customary overly maudlin passages, and a sincerity and hyperbole that seemed forced and inauthentic.
But aside from that, this book is an excellent narrative on dealing with the stresses of daily life, perhaps even a "how to" book in memoir format.
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