A tour de force.

Carey’s debut is at once an Irish home-reconstruction comedy, a requiem for Fire Island friends, and a treasury of Broadway gossip, all for the love of Mammie.

In the early 1960s, 12-year-old Alice and her mother sail to Ireland to visit relatives in County Kerry. There they find Mammie’s brother Bob, a pedophile priest; cow-milking cousin DD; bog fires, excellent tea, and good whiskey. They continue on to Father Bob's meager Liverpool parish and to London, the trip’s highlight. Forty years later, Carey and her husband sell their beloved Fire Island home off Long Island and buy a “ruin” near Bantry Bay, County Cork. The main narrative covers the repair of this pre-Famine building: architect, laborers, and neighbors appear on an unpredictable schedule; New York friends visit and travel to such local sights as the Skellig Rocks. Between commutes to Ireland, Carey remembers her Catholic childhood in Queens, maintaining the present-tense narrative that gives all of her memoir such immediacy. Keeping her pugnacious father in the background (and never calling him “Dad,” always Carey), she recalls struggling in school and sneaking into weddings with her mother. When Mammie is hired as housekeeper to Broadway producer Jean Dalrymple and, later, Jed Harris, life changes dramatically. Big Alice brings in Little Alice to help after school. They love the Manhattan good life: wonderful clothes, Christmas cards from Cartier, piles of sweets from East Side bakeries, all the showbiz gossip from Homer Poupart, Dalrymple's gay assistant. Carey's affection for Homer later leads to her summering in Cherry Grove, Fire Island's gayest community. Harris, a heart of gold behind the ruthless facade, provides Alice with front row seats for Peter Pan, and helps her switch to a first-rate high school, where she does well. The sentimental subtitle belies a powerful, earthy, affectionate story whose disparate sections are knit together by Carey’s skillful characterizations, authentic dialogue, and witty observations.

A tour de force.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60984-X

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2001


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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