A refreshingly frank and free-spirited memoir from a feminist icon.

NO WALLS AND THE RECURRING DREAM

A MEMOIR

The Grammy-winning artist recounts the eventful story of her life as a musician and feminist political activist.

The daughter of an architect mother and an engineer father, DiFranco grew up in 1970s Buffalo as a cheerfully independent misfit who loved horses and poetry. After her brother was hospitalized for psychiatric issues, she shifted her attention to dancing and music. She learned to play guitar from a colorful public school artist-in-residence named Michael and came to realize that music “brought me deeper and deeper into the world” in a way that dancing did not. When her mother left the family, DiFranco followed her but then left to strike out on her own as an emancipated teenager, sleeping in bus stations, gigging with Michael, and working to finish high school early. Then she moved to New York and, at age 18, started selling tapes of what became her eponymous debut album. DiFranco also began a long, complex relationship with Scot Fisher, who helped her manage her newly founded label, Righteous Babe Records. In between playing clubs and festivals at home and abroad, DiFranco took classes at the New School for Social Research, discovered feminism, and began experimenting with bisexual polyamory. Her commitment to left-wing political activism also blossomed, and she engaged in protests against the first Gulf War and American intervention in El Salvador. By the mid-1990s, DiFranco moved out of the hardscrabble underground scene and into the mainstream, which now recognized her as a major talent and successful entrepreneur. Marriage to her sound engineer and tours around the world followed. Yet in the midst of triumph, she still felt “utterly alone.” Like post–9/11 America, she would endure several “years of flailing” along an uncertain path. Interspersed throughout with feminist/political musings and anecdotes about such music legends as Pete Seeger, Prince, and Bob Dylan, DiFranco’s tale celebrates both independent music and an unconventional life daringly lived.

A refreshingly frank and free-spirited memoir from a feminist icon.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2517-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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