Not exactly a Horatio Alger story but an engaging tale of a writer finding his way in work and life.

AT THE STRANGERS' GATE

ARRIVALS IN NEW YORK

A longtime New Yorker contributor writes about his early years in the city—the 1980s principally—ruminating about art and artists, love and apartments, writing and reading and speaking, and the city that he loves.

Gopnik—the author of numerous works on sundry subjects (The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, 2011, etc.)—returns with an affecting memoir about his many dawns: his love life (there is much here about Martha, his wife of many years), writing career, and friendships with significant figures such as Richard Avedon and Jeff Koons. This is a highly allusive text, with references ranging across the cultural landscape, from Anthony Trollope to X-Men, from Falstaff and Prince Hall to professor Irwin Corey. But Gopnik will engage most firmly those interested in the art world of the 1980s. He studied art history, worked as a docent at the Museum of Modern Art, and did his earliest publishing in art magazines. Later, he moved to GQ, where he wrote about men’s fashion, then to Knopf as an editor before settling in at the New Yorker, his promised land. The text is also an extensive love letter to his wife—and includes a carefully erotic section about their sex life and about sex among married people in general. Throughout, readers will become aware of the author’s great fortune in his career: meeting important people, acquiring jobs that even he knew he was not qualified for—e.g., Knopf and editing. However, Gopnik retains an appealing modesty throughout and has some very entertaining stories to tell, including one about an invasion of rats in their loft (some foul secrets of the city, he learns, lie below).

Not exactly a Horatio Alger story but an engaging tale of a writer finding his way in work and life.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4000-4180-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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