Bruno is a silent partner, often unmentioned for pages at a time, but Smith relates their experiences in a deliberate,...

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CROSSING THE PLAINS WITH BRUNO

Exploring the Midwest, the past, and the passing of time on a road trip with a chocolate Lab named Bruno.

A two-week solo road trip across the Great Plains is a journey that can be approached in two different ways: as an unsavory, short-as-possible trek of necessity or as an opportunity that provides miles of uninterrupted reverie, a chance for the mind to luxuriate in all manner of memories. For writer and filmmaker Smith (In This We Are Native, 2002, etc.), a founding board member of the Sundance Institute, it was more the latter that appealed to her, with one minor change: her traveling companion, Bruno. In the preface, the author discusses the losses that followed her journey. While still reworking the book, Bruno became ill, and the veterinarian was unable to save him; Smith’s mother, the lodestar of the story in ways both physical (she was going to help her mother with moving) and spiritual, passed away. Furthermore, the start of her trip occurred in the same month as the anniversary of the death of Smith’s husband. Before embarking, the author entered the date, mileage, and time of departure in her journal. Then the numbers mostly faded into the background. She holds her life and the choices made—by her and for her—up to the light cast by her relationships with friends and family. She also tenderly shares the details of some of the losses in her life and examines what happens to hopes when they are fulfilled differently than one might expect and when the person doing the hoping finds herself looking backward to find her way forward. “One twist of the kaleidoscope at memory’s core causes the shards to fragment and re-pattern,” writes the author, “but they are always the same shards.”

Bruno is a silent partner, often unmentioned for pages at a time, but Smith relates their experiences in a deliberate, thoughtful way.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59534-669-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Trinity Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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