Caught in the Headlights
Trade Paperback: 116 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort (June 2008)
Website: www.barrykphillips.comBlog: http://www.barrykphillips.com/blog
Purchase book here
When I agreed to review “Caught in the Headlights” by Barry K. Phillips, I was expecting (and hoping for) a scathing political satire. Sadly, I was disappointed. It was not a scathing political satire at all. Happily, it was something more. I think I would classify it as a “self-examination” book of lessons to be learned in life and suggestions on how to learn them.
Subtitled: “10 Lessons Learned the Hard Way,” Caught in the Headlights covers the topics of happiness, self-esteem, pride, freedom, control, tolerance, forgiveness, success, the big event and the perfect body.
Each chapter begins with a satirical t cartoon (done by the author himself) with captions that are snappy and display a tight grasp on human nature. Examples and lessons follow and a poem by the author ends each chapter. Mr. Phillips great poetic strength lies in the messages he imparts.
Mr. Phillips uses sarcasm and self-deprecating examples to point out to the reader that when he thinks he is seeking happiness, he is really only seeking inner peace. Or that self-esteem does not come from compliments, but rather from competence.
My favorite chapter is about tolerance. My father once told me “Don’t be so open minded your brains fall out.” Mr. Phillips takes the same approach in his view of tolerance.
“One of the unspoken truths is that people who want tolerance do not really want tolerance. They may start out that way, but they quickly move from wanting tolerance to wanting acceptance, then endorsement, and finally domination.” ... “I think that being tolerant is a good thing, but it does not mean I have to agree with everything and everyone.” The lesson for this chapter was “Tolerance does not mean we can’t have an informed opinion. There are values worth defending.” This chapter is filled with a lot of other really good stuff and like the rest of this book, much of it isn’t even politically correct. Bravo! It's about time someone called it like it is.
Mr. Phillips was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
Mary: What inspired you to choose to write this type of book, or even to
write a book at all?
Barry: Well, I got the confidence to write the book after writing for Glenn Beck's Fusion Magazine. I figured if they liked my stuff enough to use me, I might as well give a full book a shot. I've always wanted to combine my cartooning with writing, and this gave me a chance to do just that. This type of book just suits my personality.
Mary: Your book is not an especially mainstream genre and your publisher,
Cedar Fort, generally plays it safe in the type of books they publish.
What approach did you take in successfully pitching your book to them?
Barry: I really didn't have to pitch too hard, they just seemed to really like the book. Who knew? I think the different approach was interesting to them, because they really didn't do drastic edits like you here horror stories about with most publishers. They were great to work with.
Mary: It sounds like you have had some interesting experiences in your
life that you use as bases for your book. What is the biggest challenge that you have encountered and how did you deal with it? (The biggest you want to share with us.)
Barry: Well, I've run a lot of my own businesses and you can really get wrapped up in that. I'll never forget when my first company went down. I was devastated. The next morning after the whole thing was gone, my wife just looked at me and said, "so what's next?" She didn't mean a new business, but she was committed to our future together. I started to realize what really mattered most... my family and others that I love. Business not longer defined me, it was just a part of what I had to do to keep the family moving. That was a great lesson to learn, and learn before it was too late. I had to remind myself of what was really important and what I wanted to make of myself.
Mary: You have a "Top Ten" list of pursuits. How did you come up with your list?
Barry: I was amazed at how many people have dealt with these same issues, but so many never figure out how to learn the lessons. You know the old adage, "if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." Breaking the cycle of repeating the same old things is pretty hard to do, so I thought others might benefit from what I've learned. These 10 seemed to be the most common.
Mary: Do you personally know Glenn Beck?
Barry: I have met him and talked with him about some of the things I've written for him, but I wouldn't call us great friends. He's very busy these days. He was kind enough to write the foreword, for which I'm very grateful. And I always get into his shows for free! I'm actually pretty good friends with the original editor of Fusion. He is now a producer for Glenn's TV show.
Mary: Your ten pursuits can be used by a broad range of people, including politicians, I assume. Speaking of politics, which of your 10 pursuits do you think America is having the most trouble with? Do you have a suggestion how to cure that trouble?
Barry: I assume you want a suggestion besides "throw all the bums out!" Frankly, most politicians have really lost touch with what it is like to be you and me. Pride, is a big issue as well as duty. If they truly wanted to do what is best for us, and not for getting and keeping their power at all costs, I suspect we wouldn't have most of the problems we face today in this country, because they'd function by logic, not their political agendas.
Mary: Why did you choose the title, "Caught in the Headlights"?
Barry: Have you ever seen how deer get frozen in their tracks when headlight's hit them? This book is about those "caught in the headlights" moments that I've experienced in my life - moments that I think we all experience - where I've realized I was after the wrong things. The thing is, even if you get those things, you come up wanting. The ten lessons in the book are about very common things that we think we want, but we really don't. "Caught in the headlights" was often how I felt when I finally realized I was on the wrong path and needed to change course.