Friday, September 26, 2008

Walking Through Walls by Philip Smith

Walking Through Walls by Philip Smith
Copyright 2008 (Released Sept. 18)
Atria Books/Memoir
332 pages

5-word review: Decorator dad becomes psychic healer

This book is going to be a difficult one to review because it is so far off-the-wall. I was hoping Walking Through Walls would be similar to an Allison DuBois book, although the book is a memoir about growing up with a psychic healer, not life as a psychic. Instead of the sweet book about psychic life that I'd hoped for, the book begins with a young Philip Smith drinking an alcoholic beverage in a sleazy Florida bar -- at the age of 6. To be honest, my initial impression was that Smith was the victim of child abuse. His parents ignored him and allowed him to drink alcohol in a bar with a large picture window into a pool where things you really wouldn't even want your teenager to watch occurred? That's just not right. His family and their lifestyle were so far from normality that I had a great deal of difficulty reading the book.

I set the book aside in disgust and then eventually managed to shift gears and read the whole thing. Smith tells about how his father, a well-known decorator living in Miami, suddenly decided to take up a macrobiotic diet and study spiritualism and psychic healing. Gradually, he began to perform healings (free of charge) and eventually he was able to heal by phone, using a pendulum, maps and the essence of homeopathic medicines, which he projected to the person in need.

"Before I start any work, I say a quick prayer to raise my vibrations so I'll be able to tune in to the proper frequency. I simply say, 'I raise my vibrations to the divine and healing level.' "

p. 217 of Advanced Reader Copy, Walking Through Walls (changes may have been made)

Sound like a stretch? It was a bit too much for me.

Now and then, though, I really enjoyed the sense of time and place:

The big pink Philco regrigerator was humming noisily as she squished meat, eggs and crumbled Saltine crackers in a large Pyrex bowl. Just as I was about to announce my presence, the sirens wailed again. They seemed to be either louder or coming closer. I was now officially scared. Having spent several years in school perfecting my "duck-and-cover" routine that would protect me in the even of nuclear war, I quickly climbed into the cabinet under the sink, huddled next to the Ajax, and waited for the war to start while Mom chopped onions.

--p. 20

One day Mom was wearing some vividly colored Mardi Gras pop beads (so unlike her) that her sister had given to her. They caught my father's eye. Suddenly he had a decorating epiphany that these beads could become a new way to make modern draperies.

--p. 48

So, Philip Smith's father, Les Smith, was not only a psychic healer, but the man who invented those funky bead curtains that went so well with shag rugs and psychedelic posters in the 1960s. Interesting.

The book is very readable, but contains some adult material -- too much for my taste. While Smith seems to defend his parents lifestyle and blames the way they let him run loose to indulge in drugs and sex on the time and place, I found young Philip's exploits sordid, more than enough to earn a Family Unfriendly Warning. I also found that it became more difficult to believe the stories of healing instead of easier, as the book progressed.

Some people may enjoy this memoir, but it was definitely not my cuppa.

Update on The Misery:

Still feeling awful; have called to give the doctor's office a nudge. If someone wants to attempt to heal me psychically or pray me well, feel free. Just let me know, so I can give you proper credit, after I begin bouncing around like a Tigger. At the moment, I'm relying on sleep, fluids and aspirin. But, that doesn't really seem to be doing the trick. Hopefully, I'll be able to stop whining at you, within a few days. Cross your fingers and toes.

Lucky, lucky me:

Yesterday, as I was preparing to back out of my driveway, a FedEx truck drove up and parked right behind me -- which, for one thing, convinced me I should leave a few minutes earlier for the school pick-up. Apart from that minor regret, there was also an "Oh, boy! Oh, boy!" moment, when I saw the return-address label, because I've been anxiously awaiting this particular book, an ARC of Bedlam South by David Donaldson & Mark Grisham. Those who visit regularly undoubtedly know I've recently become a Civil War enthusiast. Bedlam South takes place during the Civil War. Wahoo! I started reading the book practically the moment I opened the parcel (in the doctor's office -- he can just forget borrowing this one, although he did ask me about it and . . . well, I gushed about how much I was already enjoying it). So far, I am absolutely loving this book. I hope to finish it, this weekend. Assuming I'm alive. I figure if I'm still able to sit at the computer, it's a good sign.

Update: Got antibiotics. Took one. Waiting for the miracle of modern medicine to take hold.

Next up: Reviews of Farworld: Water Keep and The Darcys and The Bingleys. You will be happy to hear that I enjoyed both of them. Negative reviews are such a bummer.

Wishing everyone a pleasant, book-filled weekend!

Bookfool, who hopes to quit whining and feel better, soon


  1. Anonymous8:14 AM

    I hope the meds have kicked it! I just called my doctor yesterday and asked for the GOOD pain killers, since the stuff they had given me after my surgery wasn't working! Oh, and don't you just LOVE it when the mail guys brings free books?

  2. Stephanie,

    I hope they gave you something nice and strong!! I've been through that and it's best just to be honest and beg for the good stuff, rather than endure the pain. I wish you quick healing and more good news!!

    I'm feeling much better, today -- not sure the meds have totally kicked in, but maybe the rest and fluids gave me a boost. Hopefully, I'll be near 100% within the next 24 hours. Usually, those antibiotics work pretty fast, so I'm hopeful that I'll be back to normal soon!! Thanks for asking!

  3. Hope you are feeling much better soon. You have to - it's the weekend! :)

  4. Iliana,

    I'm feeling much, much better. Still have a ways to go till I'm 100%, but I don't feel obligated to sleep all day, now, which is so nice. The cat actually was kind of miffed about that, so I had to go read in order to get her to curl up and relax, silly beast. Thanks for asking!! :)

  5. I am SSSSOOO envious that you have Bedlam South! The authors will be in my town in a few weeks, so I'm really hoping I can read the book before they are here. I am anxiously awaiting your thoughts on it. I'm reading Sweetsmoke right now, and am really liking it so far!

  6. Laura,

    Oh, oh, oh, I'm envious of you! You get to meet the authors! Coolness. It's a really good book. I've been shy on reading time, so I didn't read a page, this weekend, but I hope to finish it this week. Sweetsmoke is on my wish list, so I guess we're in the same boat: "Hey, she has a book I'm aching to read." ;)


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