A poignantly candid memoir about navigating the often rocky shores of family.

LIFESAVING FOR BEGINNERS

A former editor and literary agent tells the story of how her mother’s unexpected death forced her to come to terms with a tragic family past.

When Edelstein’s healthy 68-year-old mother suddenly drowned while snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, her world upended. Not only did she have to confront the conflicting feelings she had long harbored toward her emotionally distant parent; she also had to process unresolved grief for a brother, Danny, who had committed an especially violent act of suicide 15 years earlier. The author’s mother had been a woman for whom order meant everything and whose love came with a “debilitating web of anxiety” that entangled those who were close to her. No one could speak the truth of what they were feeling; “everyone had to act like our world was perfectly okay.” It was her sweet, funny brother who helped Edelstein navigate the treacherous field around her mother. But as he grew older, his gentle manner gave way to meanness and irresponsibility, which she later recognized as symptoms of the illness that caused Danny to kill himself at age 22. Over time, the author learned that both her mother’s and brother’s behaviors came from an inherited tendency toward depression and bipolar disorder that had affected her mother’s father, who committed suicide at age 50 after multiple failed attempts; and her mother’s brother, who also committed midlife suicide. By revisiting her family’s past, Edelstein gradually began to understand that her mother’s maddening rigidity came from being “surrounded by suicide on all sides.” Determined not to let her emotional burdens drown her or destroy her marriage and family, she began the courageous task of breaking the silence around her family’s past to her own children. Touching and honest, Edelstein’s book offers keen analysis of the mother-daughter relationship while probing the perennial question of what makes humans choose life or death.

A poignantly candid memoir about navigating the often rocky shores of family.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59709-605-8

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Red Hen Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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