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Cushion in the Road, The Hardcover – 9 May 2013

2 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: THE NEW PRESS (9 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595588728
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595588722
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,395,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is plenty in this book that I think is great. Alice Walker's warmth and compassionate insight shine forth from many of the chapters. But there is a real problem, which is that she and her editor seem to have gone for the option of throwing every piece of writing into the mix that they could possibly get there hands on - that makes for an experience of confusion as a reader. The Introduction starts reasonably enough with Walker telling us how she travelled to Mexico planning to enjoy a period of quiet meditation and contemplation only to find herself being drawn back out into the world by the assault on Gaza and the prospect of the election of America's first black President. This led her to the understanding that she wasn't inclined to shut herself off from the world of human affairs, and to travel to various parts of the world including Burma, Thailand, Gaza and the West Bank out of a sense of commitment to the well-being of others and to the realization that "my cushion [symbolising her inner spiritual quest],the fountain, the peace, because of my attention to some of the deep sufferings in the world, sometimes seemed far away."

So far so promising.... and I found the first section of the book on Barak Obama pretty good too. On page 23 in an open letter to Obama she offers him the advice not to take on other people's enemies, also advising that "There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanising as a means of ruling a people's spirit." And on page 34 a good chapter on health care in which she makes the observation "How bizarre it is that President Obama....
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Format: Hardcover
Complete drivel, self indulgent tripe that makes no sense. The author seems to have a big issue with Jews.
Waste of miney
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9efb4978) out of 5 stars 26 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9eff3510) out of 5 stars A Meditative Journey 8 Feb. 2014
By Bamabell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alice Walker is a very direct yet kind thinker. The book, a compilation of essays concerning recent years, is easy to pick up and put down, but one never forgets it is there to add to the reader's life. The style is contemplative without being obtuse. It is good to read one who is concerned with her integrity rather than humoring the reader with cleverness. She demonstrates what balanced thinking is.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9eff375c) out of 5 stars Required reading -- 9 Jun. 2014
By Rhode Island Deals - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Truly....this book should be required reading in our American schools.

Moving, heartbreaking, insightful.

The plight of of millions of innocent people living in an Apartheid state and virtually an "open air prison", is expressed exquisitely in her writing.

Thank you Alice, for giving the Palestinians a voice when SO many shrink in ignorance and cowardice.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9eff399c) out of 5 stars Wonderful sentiments - Terrible editing! 12 Aug. 2013
By Adam A. Waterhouse - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There is plenty in this book that I think is great. Alice Walker's warmth and compassionate insight shine forth from many of the chapters. But there is a real problem, which is that she and her editor seem to have gone for the option of throwing every piece of writing into the mix that they could possibly get there hands on - that makes for an experience of confusion as a reader. The Introduction starts reasonably enough with Walker telling us how she travelled to Mexico planning to enjoy a period of quiet meditation and contemplation only to find herself being drawn back out into the world by the assault on Gaza and the prospect of the election of America's first black President. This led her to the understanding that she wasn't inclined to shut herself off from the world of human affairs, and to travel to various parts of the world including Burma, Thailand, Gaza and the West Bank out of a sense of commitment to the well-being of others and to the realization that "my cushion [symbolising her inner spiritual quest],the fountain, the peace, because of my attention to some of the deep sufferings in the world, sometimes seemed far away."

So far so promising.... and I found the first section of the book on Barak Obama pretty good too. On page 23 in an open letter to Obama she offers him the advice not to take on other people's enemies, also advising that "There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanising as a means of ruling a people's spirit." And on page 34 a good chapter on health care in which she makes the observation "How bizarre it is that President Obama.... has to spend so much energy trying to get Americans to accept what we so desperately need: a system of health care that means that we don't have to be terrorised by the though of getting sick." And starting on page 47 we have the letter which she wrote to the graduating class of Naropa University in which she draws upon her insight from Buddhism to make the following comment with respect to the perpetrator of the massacre at Virginia Tech "....we must allow ourselves to feel compassion for the person who killed the other thirty-two before killing himself. This thought - that compassion does not stop at who was right or wrong, does not stop at feeling loving kindness for the miserable and oppressed, does not stop at feeling the pain of the victim while ignoring the pain of the victimiser - is a human expression of warmth, a human sunrise, our world desperately needs." And all of this is absolutely characteristic of the Alice Walker that I love and deeply appreciate - the Alice Walker who is able and willing to shine the light of love and compassionate concern upon the problems of a confused and suffering world.

And then we move on to the second section, entitled 'The Road of Life' which is where my problems with this book really began, because each of the brief pieces of writing simply seemed random and arbitrary - there was no logic to it. Included in this section is a book review of 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett, but why? I thought that I was supposed to be reading a book which explored the interface between her spirituality and her political and social activism. Even if some connection can be made (I guess it probably can) it still seemed to be too tangential to me. Included also in this section is a chapter 'We Are In This Place For A Reason' which boldly declares the innocence of Mumia Abu-Jamal. I had no knowledge of who this man was before reading this chapter and doing a little bit of research on the internet. But even after doing so my only thought was "Why are you telling me this?" I couldn't really see its relevance to the stated aim of the book.

The same comments apply to many of the chapter in the subsequent sections 'The Settled Mind' and 'This Is What You Shall Do'. The final two section 'Letters' and 'On Palestine' certainly took us back to the stated aim of the book, but here the lack of adequate editorial oversight presented a different problem - that of placing the average Western reader in the position that I found myself in with respect to her chapter on Mumia Abu-Jamal, which is the position of being presented with assertions for which they have no evidence - and hence no basis upon which to arrive at a judgement of their own. The situation is particularly serious in the case of the Palestinian issue since the average American has been systematically misled by the main-stream media into perceiving the Palestine/Israel situation from a hugely slanted and biased point of view [Please check out the web-site 'If Americans Knew' and the information contained therein if you doubt this assertion]. Hence the average reader may well pick up this book with the belief that Israel would gladly make peace with the Palestinians if it weren't for the mindless religiously-inspired terrorism which they have supposedly been inflicting upon the poor Israelis. In the immortal words of Mark Twain "It 'ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble, it's what you know for sure that just 'aint so." And what they know for sure about Palestine/Israel that just 'ain't so appears to have led some reviewers to the conclusion that the only reason that Alice Walker could possibly hold such a negative view of the state of Israel is because she is a purveyor of anti-Semitism! In fact, for many of them what they know for sure that just 'ain't so probably includes the belief that criticism of Israel IS anti-Semitism, in which case they should probably try to make the acquaintance of Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer, author of the truly excellent book 'The End of Judaism: an ethical tradition betrayed' and have a chat with him on this point.

Or perhaps they might like to start by reading one or more of Alice Walker's own recommendations on this topic 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid' by Jimmy Carter, 'One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse' by Ali Abunimah, or 'Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation' by Saree Makdisi.

And I would really urge anyone planning to purchase this book who is not familiar with Israel/Palestine to consider purchasing and reading one of these books first in order to have a greater understanding of what she is talking about in this final section of the book.

In conclusion I would simply say that I truly believe that Alice Walker is a terrific person. Her compassion seems to me to be absolutely genuine, and she is fearless in proclaiming many of the difficult truths that the world so badly needs to hear at this time. However, I also think that the book suffers from a lack of editorial over-sight which weakens the impact and clarity that it might otherwise have had.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9eff3cfc) out of 5 stars The Cushion in the Road 18 Sept. 2013
By Debra Rhodes, . - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My book club has been in discussion of this book for several weeks. In our opinion, this book reflects Alice Walker's transition from some of her earlier works which were dark and cynical to a more optimistic and holistic outlook. The book is very well written and thought provoking.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9eff3ab0) out of 5 stars Five Stars 1 Nov. 2014
By Sharen Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Am still reading and enjoying it.
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