A hard-knocks addiction memoir buoyed with humor and insight.

An addict reflects on her long, bumpy road to eventual recovery.

“Welcome to the mind of an alcoholic addict,” writes Dresner in her effortlessly candid and wryly written chronicle of a life hijacked by drugs, booze, and bad behavior. As a noted West Hollywood stand-up comedian and addiction journalist, she handles this complex tale with wit; while a lot of her pain is deflected through her droll tone, there remains an undertone of suffering and debilitating illness. The narrative is refreshingly devoid of overanalysis on her childhood as the daughter of divorced parents who were “well matched in that they both loved to drink and fight.” Instead, the author delves directly into the heart of her own personal darkness, a fight with her husband that escalated into a pulled knife, a restraining order, and nights spent “smoking, squatting, and crying on the dark, quiet, ritzy sidewalks of the Hollywood Hills.” A vividly described (and short-lived) fifth visit to a rehab facility provided only a temporary fix. Hospital psychiatric holds, wrist cutting, divorce, emotionless sex, community service, and an admitted lack of impulse control collectively contributed to the author’s lowest points, which are depressingly abysmal yet illustrate a brutally honest insider’s viewpoint into cyclical, interdependent worlds of rehab, relapse, and recovery. In a conversational, self-deprecating tone, Dresner dictates a nonstop barrage of events in which AA meetings and everyday life blur into one another amid the tragic, rhythmic seesawing between inebriation and rickety detoxification. Some shared memories are crisply drawn, others clouded by the haze of chemically induced euphoria. Other chapters are gilded in some rather self-effacing hindsight wisdom: “I guess I am just one of those stubborn assholes who has to burn their house to the ground to realize you shouldn’t play with matches.” When Dresner finally decided to take getting clean seriously after performing a monthlong court-ordered service sweeping the condoms and syringes off Santa Monica Boulevard, her resolve is palpable.

A hard-knocks addiction memoir buoyed with humor and insight.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-43095-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hachette

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017


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

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