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The Man in the Empty Boat by Mark Salzman

The Man in the Empty Boat (edition 2012)

by Mark Salzman

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4611251,994 (3.96)19
Title:The Man in the Empty Boat
Authors:Mark Salzman
Info:Open Road E-riginal (2012), Paperback, 160 pages

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The Man in the Empty Boat by Mark Salzman



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A memoir I read on a whim. I hard a recommendation for one of his novels (Lying Awake) checked my library and got this book instead which tell his story of personal anxiety, writers block, the death of his sister and a dog farting. I read this cover to cover in an evening. Excellent memoir and well crafted story telling. Maybe I will get to other books he wrote. ( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
This is a memoir about the problems Mark Salzman has in writing and, in particular, one year when things went south in ways he could not have imagined. Much of this book is very funny, and it made me so thankful that I don't live in a family so ruled by anxiety and depression. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Mar 11, 2016 |
Just as David Foster Wallace had the gift of writing so that readers believed that his thoughts were also their own, had they only his gift for expressing them, Mark Salzman writes so winningly that you feel you know him with perfect clarity. You like him, and you're certain that he would like you. And up to now, his creative life had seemed to be a perfect success. So it comes as a surprise to come across this humble, small-press memoir of anxiety, self-doubt, and trauma. Of course, he is as charming as ever, self-deprecating and candid almost to a fault. He had a terrible few years, ending in an epiphany that it's this book's purpose to describe.

That I didn't find his realization intellectually or emotionally compelling takes nothing from the force it has for him or may have for you, and it doesn't spoil my admiration for the book. I can't think of another work that conveys so much honest emotion in so few words, and if you take his quest and its resolution seriously, you'll have plenty to wrestle with intellectually. I recommend the book highly to anyone, particularly those in middle life searching for meaning in the face of hard times. ( )
  john.cooper | Jun 8, 2015 |
Salzman is an author I found ten years ago, and, once found, was devoured. And then, nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. It’s been a long time. I finally Googled Salzman and learned he’d written one book in the last few years, this one, this little memoir.

I got my hands on a copy at last. Happy to say that I devoured it, too.

It explains why Salzman has been so quiet. He suffers from anxiety. Panic attacks. And simultaneous writer’s block.

It is the little story from a Taoist classic written twenty-three hundred years ago that has soothed his troubles, a story of a man in an empty boat. To sum it up, if a man in a boat is hit by a boat that is empty, the man won’t get angry, so why can’t we be a man in an empty boat?

Let’s hope that Salzman can find a way to be that man in the empty boat and write his wonderful stories down, too. ( )
  debnance | Jan 18, 2015 |
This book starts out purporting to be about an epiphany, but is is much more of a selective autobiography that mostly focuses on the trying parts of Salzman's life. In particular, we hear about the anxiety attacks that plagued him for months, and about the tragic death of his sister from an unknown infection. This part of the book, with its ups and downs, doctors giving hope and taking it away, all against the background of the two young daughters about to lose their mother, is almost too much to bear. More than once, I had to put the book down to keep the tears welling up in my eyes from becoming a flood. This is powerful stuff, and I wonder how the other members of Salzman's family feel about the detail with which he has presented it. It will certainly make you value your own loved ones and relationships more. As for the epiphany, it doesn't seem that significant, but the more you think about it, the more sense it makes. It presents a good way to cope with some of the absurdities and inconsistencies of human existence. Considering Salzman's talented, beautiful wife and his two daughters, we may wonder why he needed an epiphany in the first place. ( )
  datrappert | May 15, 2014 |
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Everyone has a worst year; 2009 was mine.
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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.… (more)

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