A gritty, lyrical and potent portrait of what it really means to be addicted.

NINETY DAYS

A MEMOIR OF RECOVERY

A recovering crack addict traverses the slippery slopes of sobriety, only to find the possibility of relapse around every corner.

Fresh out of rehab, Clegg (Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man, 2010) haunted the streets of his former hometown broke, busted and barely able to suppress his old cravings. Prior to his addiction, he was a hotshot literary agent. After, he was penned into a few blocks bounded by “trigger” zones his sponsor warned were absolutely off-limits. The desire to use again is omnipresent, and his story is littered with lies, betrayals and debauched sex. Eventually Clegg realized that the next step in his dismal descent was surely death. The author writes with astonishing honesty, infusing the intensely interior narrative with powerful imagery and penetrating insights. Even the short journeys to his daily support groups sound like heroic odysseys—though Clegg is no hero. The outcome is never assured, and there are casualties among the sharply drawn characters, most of whom the author seems to know as intimately as his own psyche. Three scant months may not seem like a long time, but for all involved it was an epic period of transformation. At turns cautionary and inspirational, Clegg’s saga embraces both the weaknesses and strengths of human nature, while only alluding to the possibility of salvation.

A gritty, lyrical and potent portrait of what it really means to be addicted.

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-12252-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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