Donald Vish: Book Review of John Y. Brown, III’s “Musings from the Middle”

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Click here to purchase

Book Review “Musings from the Middle” John Y Brown III ISBN 9781483907345 Published by The Recovering Politician 2013 Lexington, KY 365 pages


Four fortnights before his 50th birthday, John Y Brown III, with tongue in cheek and pen in hand, wryly and dryly ruminates about how many more “youthful” indiscretions he might fit in before it’s too late. Alas, it’s too late. He can’t think of any.

Brown’s new book “Musings from the Middle” (Lexington, KY July 2013) is a collection of insights and incites about the monumental and mundane events of every-day life.

Through scores of well-crafted essays, meditations, reflections and quips about family, technology, celebrities, food, travel, music, movies, and politics, Y 3 takes the reader on a life journey that includes details of his inept courtship plan upon meeting Rebecca, his future wife (he would give her his card and tell her to call him); the emotional ups and downs caused by his fluctuating KLOUT score; assaults upon his self-esteem based on a paucity of ‘likes’ on his business Facebook page; his ill-conceived strategy for backing up an iPhone with an iPhone (which he compares to “backing up a spare tire with a spare tire”); the liberating day of self-discovery when he removes “skiing” as his favorite sport from his Facebook profile when he suddenly realizes he has been skiing twice in the last 28 years; his personal victory over Demon Rum and his brash and brilliant revision to Friedrich Nietzche’s warning about the abyss (“if you stare long enough into the abyss it will wink at you and you will both giggle simultaneously”.)

While the author appears in every anecdote, the book is not about him– it is about us. Skillfully written with gentle humor and compassionate commiseration, the anecdotes catalogue the follies, foibles, delusions and illusions of the human condition as well as the victories and joys of being human.

John Y Brown III does not take himself too seriously. But his readers should. He is a thoughtful and thought-provoking essayist, a practical philosopher and wise man, armed with a disarming wit and, like Michel de Montaigne, graced with a humble personal motto: “ I’m not sure.”

Donald Vish is a Louisville lawyer, writer and photographer. He is president of Interfaith Paths to Peace and teaches Law and Literature at the University of Brandeis School of Law. He is a frequent contributing writer and reviewer for the Courier-Journal.


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