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

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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