A tender, sometimes funny memoir by a son of Chinese immigrants who became a writer and Rolling Stone editor. Fong-Torres (Hickory Wind, 1991) got his unusual name—``the greatest by-line in the world,'' one colleague said—from his father, who bought a Filipino birth certificate to circumvent immigration laws. Growing up in Oakland's Chinatown in the 1950s, the author and his siblings worked in the family restaurant (hence the title) and were sent to learn Chinese culture after school, ``but my heart was elsewhere.'' Mad magazine and Elvis Americanized him, and he became a high school writer and stage cut-up. At San Francisco State, he was a DJ and newspaperman, and found himself, in the midst of mid-60's turmoil. In between tales of his siblings and their attempts to leave the nest, Fong-Torres tells amusing, if somewhat overwrought, stories of his romantic struggles with Asian and non-Asian women. He got his Rolling Stone ``dream job'' shortly after it began in 1967 and also moonlighted on a Chinatown paper. Though Fong-Torres tells a few anecdotes about the likes of Janis Joplin and Ray Charles, he mostly skates over his rock experiences. Rather, he recounts the tragedy of older brother Barry, a youth worker killed in a 1972 Chinatown gang war, and his own effort to grow close to his reticent parents, interviewing them before his 1982 trip to China to work on a documentary. Fong-Torres concludes that his parents' Chinese ways actually produced hard-working, decent children. An enjoyable, thought-provoking tale of family ties and cultural identity, but rock 'n' roll fans may be frustrated by the author's emphases.

Pub Date: April 14, 1994

ISBN: 0-7868-6002-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

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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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