A zany and refreshing, if slightly overwhelming, take on soul-searching, writing, and midlife crises.

Me: A Rewrite

FROM VANITY INSANITY TO SELF-ACCEPTANCE (SORT OF)

In this debut memoir, a woman turns her quest for something new into a comedic adventure.

“My journey,” Jorgensen writes in her foreword, “follows a route of randomness (though, if asked, I’ll totally deny that and say I planned it all out—with bullet point lists and highlighter pens).” The half-Mexican, half-Danish author describes herself as “hot-tempered, loud, and direct,” and these attributes come across clearly as she relates her childhood, working life, and a divorce that set her on a path of rediscovery in her late 30s. She details the journey of her “Little Mother” from Mexico to Canada, and her own youth spent in small towns throughout Canada’s Comox Valley: “If it had the word ‘river’ in its name or running though it, there’s a good chance I was there,” she writes. As an adult “Realty Lady,” she found herself trapped by her false salesperson persona, 80-hour-plus work weeks, and her marriage to a good man who just wasn’t right for her. She escaped that life by taking an intensive writing course at TheFilmSchool in Seattle and then trying her hand at dating, which resulted in a “HBUAB” (“handsome but unworthy American Boyfriend”) and, later, a continuing series of romantic and professional misadventures throughout the Pacific Northwest. Jorgensen’s prose style has the casual, carefree energy of many contemporary tell-all bloggers, and she often interjects self-deprecating parentheticals, bullet lists, and satirical strike-throughs into her story. Like many comedians, she turns the most upsetting moments of her life—including deaths, divorce, infidelity, and sexual abuse—into dark jokes. She exhaustively offers her opinions on such topics as popular culture, toothpaste, self-perception, and, of course, relationships, with witty wordplay and outlandish observations. The memoir’s manic pace and playful grammatical structures don’t feel particularly innovative or original, however, and it’s easy to get lost in its dense tangents. The author also lacks the precision and structure of the dark-comedy masters, such as David Sedaris. However, she’s consistently bold, shocking, and hilarious. Readers looking for a laugh won’t be disappointed, and those tired of heavier, more traditional memoirs about modern women’s struggles will be pleasantly surprised.

A zany and refreshing, if slightly overwhelming, take on soul-searching, writing, and midlife crises.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2015

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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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