A sometimes-sad yet stirring love letter to San Francisco filled with profundity and pride.

HOME BAKED

MY MOM, MARIJUANA, AND THE STONING OF SAN FRANCISCO

The unheralded story of San Francisco’s trailblazing “Brownie Lady” plays out across more than 20 tumultuous years of the city’s often tragic history.

Volz’s mother, Meridy, and father, Doug, may have been complicated people, attempting to build a family during chaotic times in the Bay Area, but they were especially well suited to create and dispense delicious baked goodies heavily laced with palliative marijuana. By simple virtue of her birth, the author became an “accomplice” in Sticky Fingers Brownies, the family business that at one time was cranking out more than 10,000 brownies per month. The experience of accompanying Meridy on perilous brownie runs throughout the city in the 1970s and ’80s, when growing a single marijuana plant was a felony offense in California, made Volz an eyewitness to an unprecedented revolution in American culture that continues to reverberate today. The author combines a journalist’s eye for detail with a storyteller’s sense of humanity to chronicle all the incredible highs and lows, both public and private. The dissolution of her parents’ relationship dovetails with San Francisco’s more public trauma, including the Jonestown Massacre, the assassination of Harvey Milk, and the outbreak of AIDS. “Faced with bureaucratic rigidity, people with AIDS broke the law to self-medicate with cannabis,” writes Volz. “Dealers became healers." Sticky Fingers may have started off as a goofy piece of psychedelia wrapped up in tight, little squares, but the business soon became indispensable in providing necessary relief for stricken young men who were inexplicably wasting away from a little-understood disease while still only in their 20s and 30s. The author’s firsthand depiction of AIDS and its devastating initial impact on San Francisco’s residents rings with epic tragedy. Thankfully, there are plenty of triumphs in the Sticky Fingers saga as well, and Volz herself embodies just one of them.

A sometimes-sad yet stirring love letter to San Francisco filled with profundity and pride.

Pub Date: April 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-00609-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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