An intensive, uneven, relentlessly blunt take on addiction and recovery.

POUR ME, A LIFE

Nonlinear reflections on a life blighted by alcoholism.

Gutsy British Sunday Times writer Gill’s (To America with Love, 2013) brutally honest memoir charts “the year between the end of the marriage and the end of drinking,” though the narrative’s timeline is as unreliable as the author became when under the influence. During several uninspired, short-lived stints in art school, Gill was negatively influenced by an imprudent Irish vagabond and “the momentum of his hedonism,” which led to a drinking life accented with drugs and odious behavior. His encroaching addiction assumed priority over life events such as an ill-fated first marriage, though in their initial courtship, his wife-to-be enabled and romanced him with promises to “always make sure there’s beer in the fridge.” By the time he reached the age of 30, cursed with debilitating episodes of delirium tremens, blackouts, and a host of chronic physical maladies, Gill found himself in a treatment center with a physician diagnosing imminent death if he didn’t cease drinking permanently. The author is at his best when coherently describing his family life growing up, cloaking dyslexia (and his adult guilt at passing it on to three of his four children), his first acid trip, and the art of cooking elaborate, solitary dinners while “dead drunk.” The remaining pieces of his life are haphazardly scattered throughout the book. Though this jagged timeline diverts attention from Gill’s downward spiral, the anecdotes of what he does remember and his introspection on what it’s like to be both a full-blown addict and a recovering one more than make up for the memoir’s murky construction. The author’s concluding thoughts on hitting rock bottom when “there’s nothing left to say and no one left who’s listening,” his success in critical journalism, and impressions on becoming a “reluctant Christian” create an odd yet strangely fitting coda to a bumpy life.

An intensive, uneven, relentlessly blunt take on addiction and recovery.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-57491-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

more