More of a scrapbook than a full-fledged memoir, but still an affecting account of guilt, shame and acceptance.

A THREE DOG LIFE

A MEMOIR

Fiction-writer Thomas (An Actual Life, 1996, etc.) examines the challenges confronted after a tragic accident forced her to remake her life.

The author was in her late 50s when her husband was struck by a car and suffered a head injury that severely damaged his brain. At times delusional, paranoid, psychotic, aggressive, angry and without memory, Rich was “my husband and not my husband,” as Thomas puts it. She anguished over her inability or unwillingness to keep him at home, knowing that to do so would mean sacrificing her own life to become not just his caretaker, but his jailer. Instead, she placed him in a long-term-care facility for people with brain injuries, visited regularly, and brought him home for afternoon visits. The descriptions of Rich’s sometimes off-the-wall, sometimes eerily perceptive comments are one of the book’s highlights. Meanwhile, Thomas put together a new life, making new friends, pursuing new interests, acquiring new dogs. Harry, the beagle her husband had been chasing when the accident occurred, was joined by Rosie, half-dachshund and half-whippet, then later by Carolina Bones, a part-beagle stray. (This trio of warmth-providing sleeping companions gives the book its title, drawn from an aboriginal saying.) While basically chronological, Thomas’s memoir meanders at times: One moment, she’s explaining how to break up a dogfight; the next, she’s touting cutting down nettles as a cure for melancholy, or telling us about smoking and giving up smoking. One of the most unexpected side excursions is prompted by her discovery of art produced by brain- damaged patients. She begins collecting it, an enthusiasm that prompts an enjoyable chapter on outsider art.

More of a scrapbook than a full-fledged memoir, but still an affecting account of guilt, shame and acceptance.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2006

ISBN: 0-15-101211-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2006

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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

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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

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