Life-affirmative and eccentrically inspirational.

THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES

SITTING WITH THE ANGELS WHO HAVE RETURNED WITH MY MEMORIES

The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of imparts life lessons and sage wisdom through the care and feeding of a delightful flock of chickens.

Walker (Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems, 2010, etc.) realized that as a serious egg-lover, it would behoove her to “get to know the chickens laying them.” She soon hatched an agreement with a family nearby to raise them together in the rudimentary Northern California wine country neighborhood where she’s lived for 30 years. As offbeat as it may seem, Walker developed a profound attachment and an intrinsic contentment by befriending her nine “undeniably gorgeous” chickens. Often found crouched and crowing in her lap and balanced upon her shoulders, the author named each of them personally (Gertrude Stein, Babe, Rufus, Gladys, Glorious, etc.), contemplated their behaviors and researched their varietal breeds. The memoir is, in part, an assemblage of chronological entries from the author’s blog, and spans from present-day farming time to her youth in rural Georgia, where she acquired an appreciation for animals and music. The second half of the book includes poems and letters she’s written to the chickens while traveling. At their strongest, these short essays are illuminating and wonderfully wacky ruminations from the earth-conscious mind of a “run-of-the-mill mostly vegetarian person.” Walker’s sage, compassionate memoir is meant to be savored and contemplated; fans will appreciate the devoted nurturing of her feathered backyard brood as the embodiment of a lifetime spent cultivating peace, harmony and the “wonder and spontaneity of Nature.”

Life-affirmative and eccentrically inspirational.

Pub Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59558-645-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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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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