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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely lightness of touch, gentle humour, thoughtfulness and a sense of creative passion, 8 Jun. 2007
By 
Mary McNeil (Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom on How to Live, Love and See (Paperback)
Naomi Wolf is well known for her feminist writing, but this book charts her personal shift towards a deeper understanding of the importance of family, of the willingness to keep learning and of listening to your inner artist.

The structure of the book is based on the lessons her father, Leonard Wolf, delivered to his poetry students over many decades. Each lesson forms one chapter of the book: `Be Still and Listen', `Speak in Your Own Voice', `Do Nothing Without Passion'... She explores and describes her father's eccentric view of the world and the life he has lived, whilst charting her own learning and experiences as she does so.

This is a book written on a number of different levels, with a lovely lightness of touch, gentle humour, thoughtfulness and a sense of creative passion.

My absolute favourite quote from it is this one: "My dad believes that the making of a beautiful thing cracks open the painful or ugly ordinary world, and then something amazing shines through, which you have forever; which can make you blind with tears."
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of a unique man, 17 Mar. 2008
This review is from: The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom on How to Live, Love and See (Paperback)
Naomi Wolf presents to us the lessons her father, poet Leonard Wolf, gave his students throughout his teaching career. The portrait she presents is that of a character that just about everyone would wish to have known or to have had in their lives. The wisdom and light in his words provide windows on an enchanted world, the world as filtered through his unique spirit.

The writer presents his "12 lessons", which are lessons of life more than of writing, while simultaneously telling the story of how he helped her build a treehouse for her daughter in the years before he passed away. How his lessons could be applied is demonstrated through past and present situations from his life, that of the author, and various people in their lives.

She writes of where Leonard comes from, his background in Romania and his Jewish family, the story of their immigration to the United States, the strife and hardship of his childhood, and how "his mother used her imagination to survive poverty" and how he, too, followed her example, whereby "reading saved him", and "stories and poetry made reality bearable" and how all that contributed to his belief that "everyone is here on earth as an artist".

Leonard believed in the magical power of art. To him, racism, fascism, etc were all "failures of the imagination". He believed that artists were more important than politicians. He believed that a person should disregard their work's "marketability" and follow their passion, as the joy of the work itself is the biggest reward. He believed that "being true to the inner light is absolute".

A commendable effort on the part of Naomi Wolf to transmit his lessons to us before he was no longer there.

However, this work would have been even better had she managed to contact some of his former students and get some of their memories of him. Since he taught creative writing for many decades at a college in California, surely, it would not have been difficult to track them through the alumni office. I am sure that anyone who had a teacher like Leonard in their lives would remember him, and, since they were writers (or aspiring-writers), they'd have had no problem in articulating their memories and experiences. Even a few such testimonies would have enriched the book considerably.

The reasons why I'm not giving this book five stars is because of a "slight ethical blunder" on the part of the author, in one of the parts where she describes characters from her present life, to show Leonard's influence on them, and how he helped them get to a place where they could see their inner light and act upon it.

However, while the author stated at the beginning of the book that she's changing her friends' names to protect their privacy, one particular character was singled out for what would probably make his identification extremely easy, even if his name has been changed. He was the partner of a friend of the author, who made that friend "very unhappy". When Wolf wrote about him, she went into great lengths to enumerate details about his background and parents, details such as the exact district of London they lived in, the specific jobs they held, what they were known for in their communities, etc. etc., details whose sole purpose seemed to make that person identifiable. Nowhere in the book did the author relegate such meticulous detail to the entire family of one of her friends.

Anne Lamott wrote of the issue of "revenge" in writing, in her book "Bird by Bird" in a lengthy and amusing way, she stressed, however, the imperativeness of camouflage of whoever the author wishes to settle scores with. "Revenge" has been acknowledged as a possible motivation for writing, BUT, there is a very clear rule about where to draw the line, making "the target" unidentifiable. In this book, the author crossed that line, and I, as a reader, felt somewhat ambushed, used, and extremely dismayed. She was responding to an unfortunate desire to jab the person involved, using, or, more accurately, abusing, her power as a published writer.

Interestingly, the author also wrote of how her friend, once she broke up with the gentleman in question, had two relationships, one in which she, more or less, lavished in utter sensual delight, but "that was all there was to it" (great sex, basically), and the other, where she found what seemed to be the perfect partner, her soul-mate, the whole package. One can't help but wonder, wasn't that "revenge" enough?

The lofty world created by the memory of Leonard got tainted by this apparently irresistible and petty urge to get back at that person. And while his identification might have satisfied that urge, it did little service to the author's ethical credentials in my book.

From her portrayal of Leonard, I doubt if he'd have approved of that vendetta stunt either.

Vendetta stunts notwithstanding, this book is definitely worth reading, for the chance to bask in Leonard Wolf's views on life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful lessons of life, 28 April 2014
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This review is from: The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom on How to Live, Love and See (Paperback)
My best friend suggested this book and I really loved it! I loved how the author was raised believing in her dreams and also following them.
She explains that her dad is not perfect at all, but his lessons are really valuable.
I will definitely read more of Naomi Wolf. She is a really clever and passionate woman. I loved how her upbringing is not traditional at all and she definitely succeeded in life!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 19 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom on How to Live, Love and See (Paperback)
This is a gorgeous book. Well worth reading!
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The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom on How to Live, Love and See
The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom on How to Live, Love and See by Naomi Wolf (Paperback - 1 Feb. 2007)
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