With a tone that is more evocative than provocative, Busch meaningfully celebrates value where it goes unseen by others.

HOW TO DISAPPEAR

NOTES ON INVISIBILITY IN A TIME OF TRANSPARENCY

The joys of hiding from a cyberculture seeking to monitor your every move.

Despite the subtitle, these are by no means “notes” but rather fully formed and often powerful explorations of the many realms and levels of invisibility to which one might aspire or withdraw. Busch (Design Research/School of Visual Arts; The Incidental Steward, 2013, etc.) starts in the woods, the narrative beginning like a meditation on going “off the grid.” Yet she veers in less predictable directions, abandoning Alexa and the like for an inquiry into children’s literature, the persistence of invisibility within it, and the value of having an imaginary friend—which, it turns out, may not be that different than the digital friendships adults cultivate. This analysis inevitably leads to social media and the persistent pressure to be noticed by others, to risk “Facebook depression, one result of this ceaseless exposure…the anxiety induced by social comparisons and the feeling of being less attractive or accomplished than other users.” The author expounds on her suspicion that we’re doing things wrong, overemphasizing visibility and self-promotion and undervaluing the opposite, and she surveys the invisible in nature, the arts, identity, and soul. It “is not the equivalent of being nonexistent,” she writes, and subsequently elaborates, “it is nuanced, creative, sensitive, discerning.” Busch examines how erasure has functioned in art, from “erasure books” that add to the texts by subtracting words, to the ability of the flamboyant David Bowie to appear invisible as a public persona while walking the streets of New York and the refusal of the popular, pseudonymous Italian novelist Elena Ferrante to use identity, biography, and personality to market her novels. Where the assertion of one’s identity is concerned, Busch argues that less is more: “The measure of our humanity may be derived not from how we stand out in the world, but from the grace and concord with which we find our place in it.”

With a tone that is more evocative than provocative, Busch meaningfully celebrates value where it goes unseen by others.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-98041-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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