Will leave readers laughing one moment, bemused the next.



A saucy, comical retrospective on growing up Korean in the United States.

Humorist Choi (Happy Birthday or Whatever, 2007) brings together the kind of letters we all long to write but don’t, as well as irreverent essays that poke fun at a hodgepodge of moments in her life. From questioning whether her father is gay (based on his endless love of musicals) to the frustrating and embarrassing moments when her extended Korean family endlessly question Choi about her rapidly diminishing ability to bear children (based on her age and lack of a husband), the author reveals all. Refreshingly honest, she perhaps offers a few too many intimate details: One essay centers around her inability to find underwear in the United States that will fit her "diminutive, flat Korean ass (like little rice cake)" and reveals that she and her mother wish to be buried with their panties so they "can have them in the afterlife"—it's that difficult to find the perfect fit. Other subjects for introspection include childhood camping and road trips (carsickness occupied more of her time than viewing the Grand Canyon); learning to drive, which required umpteen hours of reading the manual and having every aspect of the car explained before she was allowed behind the wheel; natural disasters real and imaginary, which she survived by "a miracle or in death or something in between"; and the family's hexagonal dining table, which fell into disrepair and yet was never thrown away. Whether amused, offended, weary or exasperated, Choi delivers her autobiographical anecdotes with a candid punch and a Korean slant.

Will leave readers laughing one moment, bemused the next.

Pub Date: July 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9839-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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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 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...


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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