Starr Goode

Holly Prado from

Holly Prado reviews "The Art of Living," by Starr Goode
(Acacia Books Press, 2016)

"After the final no there comes a yes/ And on that yes the future world depends." These lines from the poet Wallace Stevens once saved my life. The final sentence in Starr Goode's excellent new book is this: "All we need is one more yes."

Goode writes in depth about Shakespeare's character Falstaff; about the history of the archetypal Fool; about Dean Martin as an extension of the "yes" Goode insists we desperately need in order to rescue the playful, witty, life-loving side of our overly serious American psyche.

In her graceful writing, Goode manages to be both the scholar and the unquenchable enthusiast, an irresistable combination for a reader. She convincingly points out that the heroic temperment (Prince Hal, soon to be Henry V in Shakespeare's play) leads only to war; Falstaff's playful attitude provides an antidote to brutality and slaughter. "Playful" doesn't mean childish -- to Goode, it means the ability to relish life, to obey one's inner promptings, to become a fully realized individual in the face of overbearing conventionality.

The position of The Fool has existed for thousands of years, although we've lost the tradition of a professional Fool, hired to bring sharp-witted insight to noble families.

In the section of the book devoted to The Fool, Goode is at her best as researcher and historian. The Fool represents instinctual life, spontaneous imaginative adventure, the strength to speak one's mind. Goode has gathered fascinating information and illustrations to sustain her viewpoint. This section of the book asks for thoughtful -- and playful -- reading.

"Dino," as Goode refers to Dean Martin, is a personality she loves. Here, the enthusiast takes over from the scholar as Martin's career is re-envisioned. Goode finds that Martin's sucess came from -- not surprisingly -- just being himself. He had no fear of audiences or powerful authority figures; he could be both ridiculous and deeply perceptive in the roles he played on TV and in film. Goode writes, "For Falstaff and Dino approve of themselves, not in some puffed up ego, cock of the walk way, but with a self-acceptance..."

Because I've always admired Starr Goode's personal interests and her exuberant intelligence, I looked forward to reading "The Art of Living." Now that I've read it, I want to read it again. I, too, believe in "one more yes." What better recommendation can there be for a reader?


Rhonda R reviews "The Art of Living," by Starr Goode
(Acacia Books Press, 2016)

In Starr Goode's always interesting The Art of Living, the archetype of The Fool is represented by the larger than life characters of Shakespeare's Falstaff and the entertainer Dean Martin. An odd couple you might say - but no. Because like the sly Court Jester of old in his crafty, and somewhat dangerous relationship with the Monarch he served, he can not only flatter and entertain the King, or Queen, he can also tell them The Truth! After all, he "is" their "Fool," so he can get away with almost anything.

In the fictional character of Falstaff; no angel, by the way; he drinks to excess, he over-eats, he tells Tall Tales, in which he is always the vanquishing hero; he doesn't pay his debts, and is not adverse to committing bald-faced theft! But he is such a jolly fellow, the life of the party. A true raconteur. Witty and Ribald. And in truth, is always himself.

And Dino? Easy going, confidant, always appearing cool and happy-go-lucky; even when he blows a lyric in a song, or a line in one of the skits on his famous television show. He rarely rehearsed, still he was the master at “winging it." So the show was always the better for it. But most of all, like Falstaff and The Fool, he remained sharp as a tack, while laughing it off, and staying true to himself, and to rule of Play.

Above all, and most importantly, Ms. Goode is genuinely in love with these entertainers, whether they be a real person, or fictional, or even an historical character. They are all performers just doing their job. They are putting on a show. Taking us out of ourselves for a few hours, and away the repetitiveness of our quotidian lives. They live their lives in a big way. But seem to make it look so easy.That is partly what Ms. Goode is trying to tell us, I believe. Like children that never fully grew up, and time and time again will always return to the playground when the world is too much with them, saying, no, yelling with wild abandon: "Don’t bother me now I’m having fun!"

Read this book. Look at the over one hundred images. It's about life! You'll have a ball!


Couldn't stop turning the pages!, Fran Castan, Author of The Widow's Quilt and Venice: City That Paints Itself reviews "The Art of Living," by Starr Goode
(Acacia Books Press, 2016)

You did it! Congratulations. In addition to writing a most entertaining and original work, you kept this ADD reader on task without stopping—to the end. What I like so much in addition to the mix of scholarship, spirituality, and fun is the the way the book itself—its content and structure—is a perfect metaphor for your theme of freedom and the authentic self. It's remarkable, I couldn't stop turning the pages.


I loved this delightful book, Cristina Biaggi Ph.D., author of The Rule of Mars reviews "The Art of Living," by Starr Goode
(Acacia Books Press, 2016)

I loved this delightful book. I knew when I started to read it that I would not be able to put it down for long. I would have to finish it as soon as possible. It contains so much joie de vivre, so much ecstasy, so much joy, and passion. I loved the end, the description of Falstaff's realization that the new world order of the militant Henry V is too severe, too blinkered in its focus, to include the joy of life. Then Dino's last years after his son's death, suddenly his focus becomes so limited. It made me weep at the end. I wondered about the Falstaff/Dino connection, but now it's become crystal clear and totally feasible. This book needs to be read by many. It's a deeply profound yet playful book...the perfect combination.


Choose Life, R.A. Berg reviews "The Art of Living," by Starr Goode
(Acacia Books Press, 2016)

At once both playful and profoundly deep, this book challenges us to consider what it means to be the philosophical autonomous individual, to choose life, to choose play, to choose foolishness. To act the fool is to act without the fear of being labeled foolish. Goode shows us that to choose the moment, being in the now where all possibilities exist, is to let go of honor based on violence and death. What a wonderful, delightful and engaging challenge.


Beautifully Written, Susan Boyle reviews "The Art of Living," by Starr Goode
(Acacia Books Press, 2016)

What I love about this book is that it is really accessible, has a conversational style. It is as if I am in a living room, talking with the author, about how to live. It is beautifully written. It is just of cool to read all these great insights, and yet, it is not didactic at all. It can't be because it's about the wit of Falstaff, The Fool and Dino! The structure and the content blend together harmoniously.


We can all use this! ellen karel reviews "The Art of Living," by Starr Goode
(Acacia Books Press, 2016)

Starr Goode gives us permission to lighten up. She convinces us that in our most relaxed, free, and joyful state, we are most human, most ourselves. Protecting our egos, concern for approval and success–this is the stuff of our daily lives. But deep down, who doesn't want to live authentically? Wouldn't we rather go through life comfortable in our own skin?

How to do it? By learning from the pros: Faust, the Fool, and Dean Martin. A quirky lineup to be sure, and that's the fun o "spirit of delight", says Goode, quoting the poet Shelley in her epilogue. Through their example, we are encouraged to reclaim our birthright–to trust our instincts, speak freely, seek pleasure, eschew pretense, create rather than conform.

Simple and scholarly, The Art of Living is a sideways introduction to Shakespeare's plays and an engaging hop through the millennia of human history. There are messages: the futility of war and the fundamental need for love. There are revelations. See for yourself the special qualities that Goode saw and loved in Dean Martin. And there is much pleasure in the reading of this little book.

This is a great gift for the serious people in your life. And for everyone else. I'm going to give it to a fourth-grade teacher I know who advises her academically driven students, "Remember to be silly." I know she'll like it.

Falstaff, the Fool and dino