"Only connect," said E. M. Forster in his famous imperative that has become as open to interpretation as the classic Rorschach inkblot test. LaUna Huffines offers a sensitive interpretation in which necessary behavior becomes a series of simple, compassionate connections in every conceivable situation. For Huffines, life's a journey, to be undertaken in moccasins rather than hiking boots, because there's no need for a vigorous ascent.
Though Huffines repeats familiar notions about releasing the past, discovering a "larger you," overcoming pride and not confusing aloneness with loneliness, she does suggest a slightly different self-improvement wrinkle. Look beyond reason to the wisdom of the heart. Why waste time negatively identifying poison ivy when we can "grow strawberries for the delight of eating them off the vine"?
Win. Win: Approaches to Conflict Situations by Arnold Gerstein and James Regan (Peregrine Smith Books: $14.95).
Arnold Gerstein encourages both parties in conflict to achieve a successful detente. The authors, respectively a psychotherapist and communications expert, reprint sample schedules of conflict-resolution workshops they've conducted over the years.
After a 7 a.m.--apparently, coffee-less--greeting, participants attend various kinds of communication seminars and engage in the Japanese martial art of aikido, physical encounters that are deemed confrontive, yet "non-competitive."
In the sun, the authors attempt to reduce genuine issues of conflict, based on tough political-historical facts (the Arabs versuss the Israelis is one example used) to situational model "games" people no longer seem to play.
Living Gangbusters by Robert Buechner (Jason Publishing: $10.95).
For all its comic-book title, this is a straight-faced primer, combining familiar theories of transactional analysis with Psych IA rudiments. Thus, our Inner Child, Inner Parent and Adult sometimes clash and sometimes achieve emotional equilibrium.
Touching on the virtues of courtesy and caring for others, Robert Buechner reiterates the truism that neither designer clothes nor microwave ovens make for other than momentary happiness.
Mission Success! by Og Mandino (Bantam Books: $10.95).
The dust jacket trumpets Og Mandino as "the most widely read inspiration and self-help author in the world today," one of his books having sold in the millions. This time Mandino draws on his World War II experience, casting his brand of positive thinking in the form of a novel.
Luke Gardiner, a bombardier stationed in England, meets Winnie Marlow, a mysterious lady who runs a boarding house for off-duty fliers. Her desideratum is embodied in a pamphlet, "The Seeds of Success," which is awkwardly inserted as a separate chapter, in time inspires the young airman to achieve awesome financial success.
Luke and Winnie are reunited 40 years later in an incredible recognition scene that makes Mandino's attempt to combine the genres of autobiographical fiction and self-help an impossible mission.