Uninspiring but sure to receive media attention.

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LAY THE FAVORITE

A MEMOIR OF GAMBLING

An impulsive young female boxing enthusiast stumbles through the sordid milieu of professional compulsive gambling.

Raymer’s background is certainly improbable. A onetime “private stripper,” she followed up her gaming adventures with a Columbia MFA and a Fulbright Scholarship. She nostalgically recalls her earliest experiences with games of chance alongside her father, a flashy used-car salesman. “Though gambling caused many fights between my mom and dad,” she writes, “I associated it with some of the happiest memories of my childhood.” In Las Vegas, Raymer worked for Dink, an overweight, slovenly “professional sports gambler.” She quickly became enamored with the business and with her own aptitude for the minutiae of receiving odds and placing bets with various sports books. The author found Dink inexplicably fascinating, despite the fact that Dink’s wife considered her a threat, even when Dink abruptly fired her, a loss that caused her to take up boxing. “Dink’s absence and rejection had created a void,” she writes. “Boxing was the most challenging thing I’d ever done. It gave me the discipline I had been craving since I had no professional life to speak of.” Later, Raymer traveled to Curaçao with Bernard, similar to Dink but more compulsive and hysterical. Bernard set up an offshore wagering operation that quickly caromed from instant success to insolvency. Raymer remained unfazed. The author’s prose style is sharp, but her memoir is morally tone deaf. The author strains mightily to present her gambling associates as colorful iconoclasts rather than creeps, yet she seems unable to perceive the financial harm they visit upon peoples’ lives and families. This material might have led to striking literary journalism, but Raymer’s preoccupation with herself—she details several PG-13 romantic affairs, which have little effect on her gambling obsession—renders it trite. The ending leaves various narrative threads unresolved, as Raymer literally runs away from her problems to Rio de Janeiro.

Uninspiring but sure to receive media attention.

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-52645-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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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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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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