Book Review: Coyote Spirit


I have to say that I was intrigued by the email a few months back asking me to review Dave Mampel’s book Coyote Spirit: The Improbable Transformation from Minister to Clown.

Reviews take time; I don’t speed-read and my skimming skills are not very good because I get drawn into good stories. Plus, I figure anyone who pours his or her heart into writing a book, not to mention dealing with the technical details in today’s online publishing world, deserves my full attention.

So I don’t do many reviews, but as I said, this pitch intrigued me. I’m a sucker for a story about finding one’s passion because implicit in that story are the gritty details of shedding the skin of a former life. I know a little bit about doing just that five years ago.

An improbable transformation

I wanted to review Coyote Spirit during National Recovery Month because Dave is a person in long-term recovery, a fact that is only one of many similarities we share. Recovery is an uCoyote Spirit_covernderlying theme in Coyote Spirit; recovery from addiction as well as recovery from living life for someone else.

Dave’s story of discovering the reasons why he followed his father into the ministry caused me to ache with understanding. For those of us who grew up with dreams of being artists, musicians (Dave wanted to be a rock star.) or writers, when the cold reality of a childhood event or trauma occurs, we are forever changed and those dreams seem to die a little more each day.

When eight-year-old Dave’s father nearly died after an accident in 1969, Dave writes, “The silly, whimsical kid I once had been descended like Persephone into the underworld and gave way to a child who was serious, even brooding.”

At 14, when Dave started using drugs, he began a decades-long swivel between responsible caretaker and creative rebel. Oh how I relate to feeling like two different people living in the same body!

The courage to change

It’s one thing to hope and wish and long for your life to change. It’s quite another thing to make the change happen. In my case, I had to face the hurt feelings and anger around my decision to radically change my life. I had a lot of accusations thrown at me about my selfishness, how I was only thinking of myself.

I believe we’re given many opportunities in life to shift to an unexpected path, and yes, the shift can mean heartache to others. But we can’t possibly see the bigger picture; all we can do is trust that GUS (God-Universe-Spirit) intends happiness and blessings for all of us. What if my hurtful decision today opens a door to your future happiness?

We simply cannot live our lives for other people. Reverend Dave took a huge leap of faith with his transition to a 20-plus-year career as Daffy Dave the clown. His is a beautiful and tender story of what so many of us in recovery strive for: to thine own self be true.

As Dave writes, “All I had to do was made the fundamental decision inside myself to begin the journey, to pay attention to my best lights, ideas and hunches and to be fully aware of the blessings that came to me from heeding this authentic vocational path.”

To all the seekers out there, have fun with Dave’s book. For all those who enjoy a coming to life story, no matter your age, enjoy!

You can find Coyote Spirit: The Improbable Transformation from Minister to Clown on or

P.S. Dave has agreed to give away two copies of Coyote Spirit. To qualify to win, leave a comment on this page or on the B Here Today pinned Facebook post. The contest will remain open through the end of Recovery Month.

Photo courtesy of Sgarton

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  1. Hiya, Beth…

    Sure appreciate another quality post. I immediately connected with you on book review requests via email. Get ’em now and again. And, dang, you really want to do them, but, yeah, it takes time to read the book, and then put the piece together. You did a very nice job with Dave’s.

    His recovery from living life for someone else is inspiring. Wonder how many have figured out that’s what they’ve been doing. Been there, as well. Coming out of high school I wanted to go to acting school. Uh, but no – that didn’t meet my parent’s expectations. And, go figure, my alcohol abuse probs commenced two years later – and I lived my life on a “call it in” basis for decades (talk about “two different people living in the same body).

    But things turned around when I hit grad school at close to 50 and earned my counseling credentials. I made the change happen, in spite of several around me declaring it was way too late.

    It’s about courage and determination all day long. And it sure ain’t easy. But change – identified and confirmed necessary change – it’s just right….


    • Beth says:

      Bill, you make me smile every time we connect. It is about courage and determination all day long, oh, and throw in a good bit of stubbornness. “Ain’t nobody telling me what I can or can’t do.”

      Golly, how I remember “calling it in” because I truly didn’t give a damn–with the exception of where the next drink was.

      Acting school, huh? How very cool. Woulda, coulda, shoulda–there is no looking back. So very happy that you made the turnaround at 50–and proved those naysayers wrong. So very happy too that our paths continue to intersect.

      Be well, my friend!

  2. Based on your review, I can’t wait to read his book. Thank you Beth for the introduction on what has all the promise of being an enlightening read — I love stories of people making the decision and then doing all they can do to change. And boy – really believing and taking to heart, “We simply cannot live our lives for other people,” is key!

    • Beth says:

      I think you’ll enjoy Dave’s book, Lisa. It’s fun and takes an honest look into the complexities around the consequences of living your dreams. Let me know what you think when you finish!

  3. […] is the Addiction Blog RoundUp for the Week. Happy Reading! Book Review: Coyote Spirit: The Improbable Transformation from Minister to Clown Over at B Here Today, Beth is doing a book review, something she says she rarely does. The book is […]

  4. I love this line, Beth, “All I had to do was made the fundamental decision inside myself to begin the journey, to pay attention to my best lights.” Life can sometimes get in our way or take us down a path we never expected. In my experience overcoming the challenges and finding what our life path is the key. Thanks for a great review!

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