Essential reading for Reed fans and strongly recommended for anyone interested in rock as art.

LOU REED

A LIFE

A full-length portrait of legendary musician Lou Reed (1942-2013).

Rolling Stone contributing editor DeCurtis (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pennsylvania; In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life and Work, 2005, etc.), who followed Reed’s career closely over the years, claims to be one of the few rock writers Reed respected. Focusing on the music as much as the singer’s often dissolute lifestyle and controversial opinions, the author makes a good case for Reed’s lasting significance. Born in Brooklyn, he moved with his middle-class Jewish family to Long Island when he was a young boy. A rebellious teenager, he began playing in bands early on. At Syracuse University, he came under the influence of the poet Delmore Schwartz, who encouraged him to take writing seriously—and served as a model of the bohemian lifestyle. Moving to New York City, he soon joined up with the future members of the Velvet Underground, who gained cachet by being “adopted” by Andy Warhol. But the band set another pattern that would dominate Reed’s career: an inability to share credit. Singer Nico, installed by Warhol to give the band glamour, and John Cale, who co-wrote many of the band’s songs, were both bones of contention. Reed embarked on a long solo career, marked by alternating flashes of brilliance and gestures that seemed deliberate self-sabotage. DeCurtis faithfully chronicles all of them, with detailed information on recording sessions and Reed’s musical collaborators. He also gives illuminating background information, often drawn from Reed’s personal experiences, on what led to some of the compositions. Despite a flamboyant lifestyle in the gay culture of the day, Reed was an intensely private person, but the author has made every effort to interview those who knew him best. While his assessment of Reed’s importance seems slightly overblown, the book is a well-written, valuable document of a major figure in the American rock scene, putting a human face on a man who often seemed impossibly remote.

Essential reading for Reed fans and strongly recommended for anyone interested in rock as art.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-55242-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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