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If you agree with that, you’re gonna LUV this book review.
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No Stories to Tell: The Psychologist Meets Infinity
Reviewed by Yocheved Golani
Steve Sherr’s autobiography is a genre all its own: Candid Thoughts from a Psychologist shared with the “He’ll keep you laughing when you’re not crying!” public, for the betterment of all concerned.
The author is a good guy with a fantastic though often cynical sense of humor. He’d spent most of his life looking for a core identity and a purpose for life itself. A Bronx-born psychologist who never bought into the feel-good fantasies of the Human Potential Movement before or after his college days, Sherr survived with an award-worthy sense of humor, unrelenting compassion for humanity plus lots of B-ball and beach time – when he wasn’t dreading the fakery he felt in advising puzzled people. Hold that thought; a beach scene is the core of The Psychologist Meets Infinity portion of this autobiography.
The title of No Stories to Tell comes from a passage in which Sherr explains a character-altering realization as the adoring daddy of youngsters. That he lacked treasured character-building family plus personal stories to tell them in their formative years left the man more distressed than usual. His life then morphed into an increased search for meaning with the motivation to be a better father.
In the Aztec Sacrifice chapter, Sherr sums up his professional education and his job as a psychologist counseling athletes and other students at San Diego State University. “It was a frightening thought, but I was coming to the realization that I had dedicated the last nine years of my life to becoming a quack… It was hard for me to keep buying the excuse that we were a young science, that we didn’t have all the answers yet…In spite of all this I still had a warm spot in my heart for it. I guess it just gets in your blood, like leukemia…It was, after all, a wonderful thing to be able to invest yourself in another human being and actually manage to help them with their lives…”
Some readers might want to dry the man’s tears in the Rear View Mirror chapter as Sherr faces his struggles to sort out the meaning of life and his counseling career when he relates “Just knowing that this was a strange way to make a living didn’t keep me from going down the tubes. Depressed, perplexed, and continually astonished, I was getting more confused than ever. Ironically, the more confused and disoriented I became, the more respect I seemed to be getting from my peers. For some strange reason, they seemed genuinely pleased with the job that I was doing, and sometimes, to my horror, they even sought my counsel.”
Chapter titles such as Perplexed from the Start, City College – the View from the Bench, Place Your Bets, Take Your Chances plus Black Sabbath take us through a pointed review of the author’s formative and adult years with a You Are There sensation for readers. We observe Sherr’s development of ever-improving character throughout the uplifting story. Peeking in on the marital friction he accidentally caused with his journey to spiritual enlightenment might leave you cheering for Marianne, the patient wife who helped the author past his problems and into a mutually satisfying lifestyle.
Back to the beach reference above: In the Sandpiper chapter, Sherr describes his startling mid-life realization – in the Pacific Ocean – that GOD exists, is compassionate, and has a mystical yet psychologically sound Plan for the Betterment of Humanity. Readers can experience the vivid “Save my sanity” scene almost as startlingly as the author had, on pages 162-167. There’s something for everyone in the Clint Eastwood-like Yin Yang blend when Sherr meets GOD while walking the ocean surf. Warning: Have tissues nearby. Tears of laughter and relief will pour down your face.
The story concludes with Sherr’s initially shaky integration into an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle. Gentle jokes and deep insights make the experience valuable for people of any religion. Sigh and cry with Steve Sherr as he puts the puzzle pieces together and learns to love his life. It’s a great read for anyone in any perplexing stage of being human.
To buy your copy of No Stories to Tell, In Israel, try your local Jewish bookstore (e.g. Manny’s Books https://www.facebook.com/MannysBookStore/, Michael Rose’s Judaica Book Center http://www.jbcbooks.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/JBCBooks/, Moriah https://www.librarything.com/venue/77373/moriah-books-and-judaica, Pomerantz http://www.pomeranzbooks.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/mpomeranz.bookseller/).
Jewish bookstore staff worldwide can supply it, too.