Young has said that her essays emerge from feelings of awkwardness about herself and her place in the world, but with this...

CAN YOU TOLERATE THIS?

A debut collection of essays from Young (Creative Writing/Victoria Univ. of Wellington; Magnificent Moon, 2013), a poet and editor with Victoria University Press in New Zealand.

The author has a clean, generally engaging writing style, though she has a tendency to meander. Important passages sometimes lack context, and several pieces would benefit from more background and fleshing out. Young’s defining strengths are honesty, sharp observational skills, and sensitivity shorn of sentimentality. Most of these essays originally appeared in various New Zealand literary magazines and journals, and there are cultural references and colloquialisms that may puzzle some readers. Nor are all the entries essays in the strictest sense. Many read like short stories or rather eccentric reminiscences, especially “Big Red,” a long account of a not-terribly-interesting family. The collection’s better pieces—“Katherine Would Approve,” “Sea of Trees,” and “Wolf Man”—reflect on such concerns as memory, impermanence, self-consciousness, the nature of solitude, and the author’s acute body awareness. Young is undeniably thoughtful, and she displays flair. She can arrest you with a glorious passage, a searching perception, or exquisitely apt metaphors and similes. But even some of her finer essays risk undercutting their potency with random endings, not so much open-ended as abrupt or flat. At the same time, the author reveals wisdom beyond her years and is a highly sympathetic figure. Young's verse has been praised for its “restrained exuberance,” though such buoyancy is seldom on display here. The writing is measured and marked more by wistfulness and melancholy, though her curiosity and imagination are always engaged. Given the author's talent and depth of vision, readers can expect continued improvement in her nonfiction work.

Young has said that her essays emerge from feelings of awkwardness about herself and her place in the world, but with this collection and those to follow, the world of this promising New Zealander is about to become wider.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-53403-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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