MANIC
by Terri Cheney |

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REVIEWED BY MICHELLE GREEN

MEMOIR

Shedding her evening dress to walk into a riptide; flying 14 kites in a thunderstorm; waking up in restraints in a locked hospital ward: Cheney's chilling account of her struggle with bipolar disorder brilliantly evokes the brutal nature of her disease. It's a timely tale: Anyone transfixed by Britney Spears' tragic unraveling may well see her in Cheney, and perhaps come to understand why manic states can be so intoxicating that some patients are loath to let go. Formerly an entertainment lawyer in L.A., Cheney, now 48, takes the reader inside a seemingly inexorable decline that began with mood swings in childhood and led, in adulthood, to suicide attempts and electroshock therapy, which triggered a psychotic break. There is hope in the end, but no cure: "For this day, at least, I'm sane," writes Cheney, "... and that's a glorious thing." Edgy, dark and often cynical, Manic is not an easy book to read, but it has heart and soul to spare.

by Peter Carey |

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

REVIEWED BY JONATHAN DURBIN

NOVEL

Carey's beautiful new novel is about Che, a boy being raised by his New York society grandmother in the '70s. Che longs to know his parents, dissidents forced underground by their antiwar activities. When he's kidnapped by Anna, Che thinks she's his mom, and Anna, acting on orders from his mother, doesn't correct him. The two flee to Australia's outback, where Anna believes they're "off the grid." Carey's stark language imbues the narrative with suspense, and his characters feel absolutely real. He's crafted an unconventional love story that's a striking portrait of the counterculture's dregs.

by Gary David Goldberg

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REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD

MEMOIR

It's easy to see how Goldberg—creator of Family Ties and Spin City—succeeded in TV. He tells the story of his journey from penniless student to media hotshot with sitcom-style humor and warmth, and all the bumps along his path get smoothed out nicely. His feud with Michael J. Fox? They made up, and Fox remains "the other love of my adult life." His adored wife Diana's life-threatening illness? Cured; they're now living happily in Vermont. Goldberg's an enormously appealing narrator, with fun tales to share about Spielberg, Fox and others. His life has been charmed, but it's impossible to begrudge it. By Ubu's end, you just want to call him up and ask to be in his show.

by Carole Matthews |

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REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER

NOVEL

Comfort by chocolate (and friends) is the premise of this romantic comedy centered around a London café called Chocolate Heaven. Narrated by affirmed chocoholic Lucy, the book chronicles her travails and romantic crises, along with those of three cocoa-addicted pals. When Lucy finds her guy cheating and calls an emergency meeting (after stuffing frozen tiger prawns under the cad's mattress), the gang looks to solve her heartbreak with the sweet stuff (natch) and a boss Lucy calls Crush. Matthews' latest is a delicious confection—a guilty pleasure to be savored.

'The disease thrives on shame, and shame thrives on silence, and I've been silent long enough'

WHAT WE'RE READING

KRISTEN BELL Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's by a female who's searching; I think a lot of females are. We're always trying to find out why we're here.

JOEY FATONE Froggy Goes to School—I've been reading it to my kid. The parents yell, "Froggy!" so I've got to do that for her. She loves when I have to yell and scream.

ELLEN PAGE I read The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram, about how humans have lost our sensuous connection and the importance of regaining it. It's stunning.

In his new book, TLC organizational guru Peter Walsh says that keeping your home clean can help keep you lean.

CATCHY TITLE—BUT CAN HOUSEHOLD CLUTTER REALLY MAKE YOU FAT? I've seen it again and again: When I help people declutter, it starts with their physical space and carries into jobs, relationships. Hundreds of people e-mailed me that a weird side effect was they started to lose weight.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Diets aren't about food; they're about decisions. If you have a messy, disorganized kitchen, you will always default to the easy. You'll get takeout. If your dining room table is piled with bills, you won't want to sit and have a healthy family meal there.

OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE ARE SOMETIMES STEREOTYPED AS MESSY. I'm not buying into that ridiculous stereotype. I'm saying that if you want to seriously deal with weight, you can't do it if the place that should be your sanctuary is a freaking mess. As with the clutter in your house, so with the clutter on your hips.

Since losing their son Nicholas, 7, in a random shooting while vacationing in Italy in '94, Reg and Maggie Green-who donated Nicholas' organs—have worked to increase donations worldwide. Reg's latest effort: The Gift That Heals, a collection of stories from donor and recipient families.

WHAT'S YOUR GOAL WITH THIS BOOK? I wanted to educate people about organ donation in a vivid way—by drawing them into real lives.

HOW DID YOU CHOOSE WHO TO PROFILE? I asked everyone I knew in the transplant world to suggest a memorable example, someone who brought tears to their eyes. We have the man who was blind and had never seen his five children, the man who got his own daughter's heart...

WHY DON'T MORE PEOPLE SIGN UP TO BE DONORS? Polls show most people are in favor of it; they just don't think about it. But the average decision to donate can save three or four lives.

ARE YOU STILL IN TOUCH WITH THE PEOPLE WHO GOT NICHOLAS'S ORGANS? Intermittently. Seeing how their lives were rescued, it's hard to think we could have made any other decision. I think Nicholas would have approved.