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Walking Through Walls: A Memoir Hardcover – September 16, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416542949
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416542940
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Smith, an artist and former managing editor of GQ magazine, reflects on his youth in 1960s Miami. He wanted a father who mowed the lawn, drank beer, and fell asleep in front of the TV. Instead, his dad, Lew Smith, was a successful interior decorator, who went through a macrobiotic transformation and began tuning into mystical vibrations. Young Philip was introduced to fasting and yogic diets, while Lew explored esoteric spirituality, reincarnation, Bach Flower Remedies and such metaphysical arcana as the akashic records, an ethereal Library of Congress of every soul in human history: [Philip] wasn't sure if this endless invisible database also included reruns of I Love Lucy or Perry Mason, but it probably did. After a 1968 encounter with famed trance medium Arthur Ford, Lew found his true calling as a psychic healer, and overnight our isolated house became Lourdes central. Smith's fine flair for waggish anecdotes is especially evident in his riotous recall of being suckered into Scientology at age 17. He looks back at his father with much affection in this mirthful memoir that bounces between the comic and the cosmic. Smith is a gifted humorist, and readers are certain to request more merriment. (Sept. 16)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. In this astounding coming-of-age story, Smith, former managing editor of GQ, describes his father's transformation from Miami's famed decorator-to-the-wealthy into something altogether more strange—the then-backwater city's resident psychic healer who performed exorcisms and seances and rid both the rich and the poor of infections, cancer, and paralysis. Here's the twist: according to the author, Lew Smith could truly heal people. The problem is that the author wanted a normal dad, one who sells insurance, comes home from work, has a beer, and falls asleep in front of the TV. A 1970s teen rebellion ensued. Hilarious and touching; for fans of the goofball and paranormal.—Elizabeth Brinkley
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

It was very well written, and easy to read.
Hawaii Bound
Thus begins Philip Smith's book, a memoir of growing up in Miami during the 60s with his father, Lew Smith.
J. Seifert
It seemed like the author just kept going back to the same things over and over.
Stephanie Mooney

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on August 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This engaging memoir is so readable that I could hardly put it down. It is the story of a family living in Florida, with the author growing up in the 1950's and coming of age during the '60s. His mother is a wonderful, lovely woman. It sounds patronizing to say she is "colorful," and I don't mean it like that. She is a beautiful, interesting person who walks to her own music. His father is a successful interior decorator and there is a great story of him being kidnapped to work in a palace in Haiti during the 1950's.

The idyllic life changes, however, when the father begins to acquire a "spiritual healing power." Soon there is talk of reading the Akashic record, using pendulums to discern truth, psychic healings, etc. A large part of the book is about the strain this puts on the marriage, and how difficult, yet also magical, it was to grow up around all of this.

I don't want to say too much more, since I am borderline spoiler already. But this is a worthwhile read, and I hope it makes bestseller.

On a personal note, I also grew up with a family member who claimed this kind of ability. I felt happy, in a bittersweet way, that it wasn't so bad for the author. For me, I felt like I lived in a Stephen King book sometimes. I usually hate this sort of thing (imagine growing up in Rose Red or the Overlook!). I state this to show how compelling and well written this book is!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on August 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book contains two stories: one, the account of Lew Smith's metamorphosis from society decorator to psychic healer and two, the author's pathway from embarrassment, to acceptance and finally to admiration for his father's talents.

We are able to follow Lew Smith's metaphysical pathway and growth, as well as the hurdles and derision he must overcome in practicing his healing. For those who have a firm belief in the superiority of allopathic medicine, the recounting of Lew Smith's use of healing energies, discussion of the etheric body and use of a pendulum to diagnosis disease will probably have a few eyes rolling. For those who share Smith's view of modern medicine ("You know what your wonderful doctors do? They give you some pills that make you sicker than when you walked in the door. Then they give you more pills to counteract the first pills..."), you'll wish he could have taught in a medical school and been given the latitude to introduce an entirely new aspect to the teaching of medical care. Instead, Lew Smith had to contend with visits from FDA inspectors, confrontations with arrogant doctors and being hauled away by police when he tries to help an accident victim.

Being "normal" is the life wish of most kids and we see the author's struggle for normal in statements such as "At the age of ten, I was not about to sit down and simply be the only acid-balanced, nontoxic macrobiotic kid in all of Miami." The dualism of his growing up - "out of necessity I developed a dual personality. During school hours I needed to appear as normal as possible, in order to avoid being beaten up or laughed out of class...", and his desire for a 'normal' father - "What I really wanted was a father who mowed the lawn, drank beer, and fell asleep in front of the TV.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Antonio C. L. Leite on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The wide approval that this book already received in the 188 reviews presented here says enough about its quality and offers the certainty that reading it will bring joy along with an uplifting motivation to anyone who decide to take the chance. Notwithstanding the negative literary critics that a few reviewers tried to impose on the author's skills and credibility, what truly comes out of this incredibly well written and fun reading story, is a remarkable lesson which can be worthy of consideration and service to anyone of us in terms of being open minded in regard to the many facets of life.
My understanding is that the main purpose of this memoir is a very clear one, and from the author's stand point, it is also clear to me that he did a wonderful job in depicting the facts with clarity and humility. Apart from this, I don't think that the author left any room to a belief that he at any rate tried to convince anyone or had any expectation of an overall acceptance on the part of the incurable skeptics neither the blind faith followers, about the truthfulness of the facts he portrayed in the book. To me one of the most valuable and important peculiarities in this book in terms of credibility is the fact that the author is not a psychic himself nor a religious catechizer who tries to win over adherence. In this manner, claims such as "I tend to be suspicious anyway", are completely inappropriate and misplaced, to say the least.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Wollin VINE VOICE on January 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read it within two days, and I had a hard time dragging it out that long! Having spent several years living in the Keys, I immediately connected with Philip's surroundings in his memoir.

He tells the story of his beautiful, classy mother, and his father, a prominent Miami decorator, who was best known for creating the beaded curtain of the 60's, and of himself, a young boy growing up with highly unusual parents. In the beginning, it seems they live the idyllic life, being successful in business and moving in exciting social circles. One day, his father comes home convinced he has a disorder called sanpaku, starts a vegetarian macrobiotic diet, and with that, everything changes. It doesn't take long before he has a spiritual awakening, and finds he has the gift to heal others.

All this is very stressful on the family. Philip's father, Lew Smith, wants to pursue his gift, refine and develop it, and his mother has a hard time supporting him, or even in time showing any interest in his gifts whatsoever.She has her own interests which include sleeping in, unfiltered Camel cigarettes, diet pills, glamour and fashion. The main part of this memoir is about the struggle Philip goes through alternating between resentment, embarrassment, and finally acceptance of his father's new way of life. He has to learn to fend for himself because at times, his parents seem to forget that he even exists, but, eventually his father keeps tabs on him like no other father ever could. Philip never has any privacy because his father can see what he's doing at all times, either through his spirit guides or through the use of his pendulum. He must endure other embarrassments as well.
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