A sleek, delightful collection.



A poet and fiction writer delivers 52 “micro-memoirs”—some just one sentence, some a couple of pages—that offer insight into her life, the lives of loved ones, and the overall human condition.

Fennelly (Unmentionables: Poems, 2008, etc.), the former poet laureate of Mississippi, mostly avoids identifying names in the essays—which were previously published in a variety of venues, including Guernica, the Kenyon Review, and the Oxford American—but sometimes it is obvious whom she is referencing or addressing. Five of the essays scattered throughout the slim book carry the title “Married Love” and refer to her husband, novelist Tom Franklin. Other essays refer directly to the author’s children or her parents. Irreverence abounds, as evidenced in the acknowledgements, in which Fennelly thanks her mother by name before adding that she “affirms me daily in many loving ways, as she has done from the start, despite noting that ‘This book has a lot of penises, Beth Ann.’ ” Some of the essays indeed refer to sex but mostly with humor or melancholy. Self-deprecation appears throughout, as well; Fennelly never takes herself too seriously. Other subjects include the author’s doubting of Catholicism, the residents of Oxford, Mississippi, where she lives, and her years as a student. The title essay, previously published in the Southern Review, begins with a service call from an HVAC repairman and then touches on a variety of other topics, including poetry, babies, cookies, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Although the concept and structure of the book are experimental, on the whole, the writing is more straightforward, lucidly composed, and often highly evocative. In “A Reckoning of Kisses,” she writes, “he placed his beer on the pool’s lip, then pulled me into his. I’ll wager that, on the scale of kiss-taste, a freshly-smoked Marlboro followed by a swig of Bud in a forbidden pool in the chlorinated dark still ranks pretty high.”

A sleek, delightful collection.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-393-60947-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: July 3, 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 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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