A sharply drawn portrait of an ambitious, fierce, and complicated woman.

STILL HERE

THE MADCAP, NERVY, SINGULAR LIFE OF ELAINE STRITCH

New York Times features writer and cultural critic Jacobs makes her book debut with a biography of the glamorous, outspoken entertainer Elaine Stritch (1925-2014).

Stritch’s career spanned nearly seven decades, ending in an acclaimed one-woman show that earned her the Tony Award she had long coveted. As an actress and singer, she had middling success, usually hired for a part when a bigger name was unavailable, or when a show went on national tour, or for summer stock. Often, she lost out to Angela Lansbury, who won many of the roles Stritch wanted: as Auntie Mame, for example, which made Lansbury “a definitive star of the musical theater,” and as Madame Rose in Gypsy. “I’m sick of Angela Lansbury,” Stritch once remarked. “I’m sick of people doing parts that I should be doing.” In 1961, her performance in Noel Coward’s Sail Away won accolades: She turned the play “into a one-woman show,” one critic wrote. “Let’s keep the busy Miss Stritch busier.” But there were problems in keeping her busy: a reputation for “being tiresome, over-full of suggestions and not knowing a word” of her lines, as Coward noted; and, increasingly, alcoholism. “They all love Elaine,” Lee Israel discovered when she worked on a feature story about Stritch. “But along the way lots of people have ceased to trust her,” Israel wrote. “She drinks, they say.” Stritch defended drinking as “a wonderful thing for social communication,” but theater critic John Lahr saw a deep vulnerability. She was “the most panic-struck person I ever knew,” he observed, “a hysteric, and completely terrified.” In an engaging, thoroughly researched narrative, Jacobs chronicles Stritch’s career, boosted by working with Stephen Sondheim and Woody Allen; her half-hearted attempts to get on the wagon; her friendships, romances, and marriage; kleptomania and refusal to pay restaurant tabs; and brazen money-grubbing. Put up at a Florida hotel for an event, for example, she brought her entire winter wardrobe for dry-cleaning “at the production’s expense.”

A sharply drawn portrait of an ambitious, fierce, and complicated woman.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-26809-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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