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A Thinking Man's Bully by Michael Adelberg

A Thinking Man's Bully

by Michael Adelberg

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Yes, he's not really a nice guy. Yes, he's done some terrible things and most of them, he doesn't recognize. But when he does start to see the light with the help of his unorthodox psychiatrist, he manages to write what he cannot even admit to himself. The bits and pieces that even he begins to understand once they are written out.

I enjoyed this book. It was well written and made me laugh. It also introduced me to some pretty harsh realities of boyhood bullying. Caught up in their own world of self-interests as most kids are, they only focus on hanging on to whatever will give them the strength to survive, all the while missing out on some of life's sweeter moments.

There is a lot of pain in this book, much self-absorption and many chuckles along the way before McDuff manages to pull his head out of his whatsis and only time will tell if he can adapt to the fresh air of clean starts.

Read it. It's very entertaining. ( )
  catscritch | Aug 9, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book to review.

I found it funny that another reviewer here loved the cover of the book. The cover is the exact reason I didn't pick the book up for weeks after I received it in the mail! I come from a fine arts background, so maybe that's why the cover irked me, but either way it made me uninterested in exploring its pages. It made me laugh that I was literally "judging a book by its cover", but let's get real; the cover art often draws us to, or pushes us away from a book.

Okay, moving on. I won't go into too much of a summary since there are already several written here. I loved the author's style of writing. Gritty, sometimes hard to read, and mixed in with enough sarcasm and humor to make it palatable. The main character isn't very likable, but that's the point; he doesn't even seem to like being around himself at times! Even though this character had a life very different than my own, his story still hit a nerve. I think we all have instances in life when we do the things that we say we would never do, or realize we have the same behavior as those we criticize. Those moments of self-realization, that we are all at times hypocrites, are moments that are hard to swallow but that be the catalyst for change.

One more criticism: I couldn't stand the footnotes at the bottom of a few of the pages. A couple of times it made me feel that the author assumed the reader was not as smart as him, and the couple of times that I wasn't familiar with the term, I could have easily looked it up had I been interested. The terms that were footnoted were not essential to understanding the overall story, so in my opinion were unneeded. For that reason and for the fact that it took me quite a while to pick up the book (truly it was initially because I felt obligated to review it), I give this book 4 1/2 stars. ( )
  oldschoolgirl | May 9, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
From Adam to Noah:The Numbers Game
Leonard Timmons

The Bible was not written by men inspired by God. It was not written to guide mankind according to God's desire. Instead the Bible was written by the wisest scholars available. The primary goal for writing the Bible was to develop an educational system that would pass on the acquired knowledge of humanity to succeeding generations. The scholars who wrote the Bible highly valued the ability of students who were able to engage in insightful reasoning. The authors valued insightful reasoning so much that the Bible was written in a code consisting of riddles and numerical puzzles. Only the most insightful students would be able to understand the riddles and puzzles contained in the textbook that today we call the Bible.
Mr. Timmons emphasizes the Bibles authors put together many of the stories of the Bible with full knowledge that the stories are untrue. Timmons believes that the stories "were meant as teaching aids" to help teachers discover the most gifted who were capable of unraveling and explain the most confounding riddle and parables.
Mr. Timmons offer several stories that differ from the stories that Bible readers are familiar with. The first story offers an explanation for why Adam and Eve were expulsed from the Garden of Eden. God presented Adam and Eve with a riddle concerning the tree life. Eve did not properly solve the riddle. Eve thought she and Adam were to avoid eating from the tree of life when in reality as Mr. Timmons has determined the solution to riddle. Adam and Eve were to avoid experiencing sexual gratification. As a result of experiencing sexual gratification Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden and were cursed so that they would toil to produce some food from the soil to eat.
Mr. Timmons reinterprets the story the about Cain and Abe differently than the traditional story of Cain killing Abel. According to Mr. Timmons, Cain not was jealous of Abel because God was more pleased with Abel's bounty of his best animals. According to Mr. Timmons Cain and Abel disagreed on how to best worship God. Cain was more concerned with accumulating wealth and viewed Abel's slaughtering of his best to honor God as a wasteful act. As each man believed that method of how to worship God was to best method follow of worshiping and each insisted that his follow his method of worshiping God the argument led to Cain killing Abel and confiscating his brother's accumulated herd of animals.
Another Biblical story that readers typically misinterpret is the story of Noah's flood. If the story is interpreted literally then the reader will assume that it rained for forty days and forty nights. However, Mr.Timmons reports that there was a population explosion resulting from the unbridled sexual gratification occurring between men and women.
Traditionally Bible readers are aware Adam and Eve were told eat from the trees in the Garden of Eden and that once they were expelled from the garden they had to cultivate and grow their own crops. As there were more people to compete for the food resources that were available some people broke God's dietary rule and began to consume flesh. As women began to feed their children flesh they became giants when compared to Noah and his family who ate fruit from that crops that they cultivated.
Noah and his family built a fort and accumulated the remaining animals to prevent their extinction now that men were hunting and eating flesh. In addition to storing animals Noah and his family also stored fruits and vegetables. The flesh eating population became healthier than Noah and his vegetarian family. As flesh eaters became healthier they also became more attractive causing population explosion to increase and people began starving to death. According to Mr.Timmons as food became scarcer the first war occurred as the giant flesh eaters attacked the fort that Noah built known in the literal reading as the ark.
Noah attempted to end the war offering to compromise but the giant flesh eaters would not compromise refusing to return to a vegetarian diet. As more of them began to die from starvation they agreed to a compromise that placed restrictions on eating flesh also excluding animals that were not be consumed including the animals that were to be killed only for sacrificial purposes.
Mr.Timmons spend a considerable amount time attempting to prove that the first eleven chapters of Genesis contains a numerical puzzle with a solution that prove s that ancient astronomers were able to accurately able determine a calendar that consisted of a 364 day year. Although I do not doubt that the astronomer from ancient Middle Eastern tribes were able to accurately a 364 day calendar, I was not by genealogical charts and timelines that such a puzzle existed within the first eleven chapters of Genesis.
There is also no archaeological evidence to support that Noah and his family were besieged by a nation of giants and no evidence of the archaeological remains of the fort that saved Noah his family and the animals that were preserved from extinction. Comment | Permalink

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  nylne | Mar 23, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book will keep you thinking long after you put it down. Although the deeper issue of two people the Matthew is close to attempt suicide is a heavy one it is lightened by funny moments in his memory. The characters are totally relateable and realistic. This book is a quick read and each little story within the chapters leads the reader to understand Matthew and his place in actions of those around him. ( )
  JessMcKenzie | Feb 28, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was the most difficult book for me to review because our area has lost two teenagers to suicide as a result of bullying. I read and reread this book, hoping to find something positive to say about it. It is well written and the author uses the first person as a way to write the novel, but I had to remember time after time that this was not an arrogant approach to bullying being OK. I would hope shame and remorse is expressed over time if someone does bully another person.

For those who can get past their own exposure to bullying, this may be a good read. Yes, friendships are complicated and life isn't easy for any of us, but picking on others is not a solution to anything and only adds to that person's emotional pain.

This book took a unique form of being two short books: the Book of McDuff and the Book of Jack built from conversations with McDuff's therapist and a growing understanding of himself. Matthew confronts the past in his stories and his therapist's hints lead to strength and peace for the present.

This book offers a fresh perspective on bullying and the lasting consequences of brutality. If this is something you are interested in,this book is for you. ( )
  bakersfieldbarbara | Feb 14, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
A Thinking Man’s Bully

Matt Duffy is persuaded by his wife to seek psychotherapy because two people close to him have had suicidal escapades; his best friend in high school committed suicide and then his fifteen year old son attempts suicide after proposing to his girlfriend and then gets caught having sex when his parents return from a night out on the town when Matt finds Jack’s engagement ring and tosses it in the woods behind their house.

Through a set of stories that Matt writes for his therapist he learns that “while the Dog was funny and an always playmate, I never felt close to him; maintaining a relationship with him was always complicated.”
Matt discovers that the purpose of therapy “. . . look back, think hard, and write about the people and events that led to the death of my best friend and the near suicide of my son.”
The title for the novel comes from a phrase spoken by Dog, Matt’s best friend “if the term bully must be applied to me, at least call me a thinking man’s bully. Unlike you I judiciously apply coercive resources to facilitate specific principle of natural selection.”

Through stories that Matt tells his therapist about his son Jack the stories “tell you, and I guess me that Jack was on his way to being a bully and a problem by the age of 8.”

Once Jack is discharged from the hospital The Duff’s pulled “Jack out of all violent activities including karate and wrestling. We enrolled him in tennis lessons and the Boy Scouts.” After Jack’s attempted suicide, Jack’s girlfriend “Young Diane” “ratcheted down their relationship and they were no longer intimate. I think she still likes him, but I imagine she now sees him as dangerously unstable.”
Matt’s final thought “I don’t know when it happened, but I really was using these stories to teach me about myself.”
added by nylne | editThinking Bully, nylne (Dec 13, 2011)
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Matt Duffy is in crisis. His son, Jack, is a high school bully who attempts suicide after Matt snuffs out a fast-moving teen romance. Outwardly, Matt is fine, but inside he is filled with guilt and resentment. Matt reluctantly agrees to see a psychiatrist who pushes him to explore his fractious parenting and his own bullying past. The end result is a collection of Matt's most important, outrageous, macabre, and indelible memories.--From front book jacket flap.… (more)

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