A unique and exuberant celebration of life and love.

INSOMNIAC CITY

A photographer and distinguished nonfiction writer’s account about starting over at midlife in New York City and falling in love with famed neurologist Oliver Sacks.

Looking for a fresh start after the sudden death of his long-term partner, Hayes (The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray's Anatomy, 2007, etc.) moved to Manhattan from San Francisco in 2009. He immediately felt at home in New York largely because the “city that never sle[pt]” was as much an insomniac as he was. The author quickly made friends with Sacks, with whom he had begun corresponding about The Anatomist. Not knowing whether Sacks was hetero- or homosexual, Hayes found himself “sort of smitten” with the eminent neurologist from the start. Shy and formal, Sacks was as ebulliently “boyish” as he was quirky and brilliant. As their relationship deepened, Hayes was also drawn into the magical restlessness that was New York. He took pictures, many of which he intersperses through the narrative, of everything from trees in winter and his beloved Oliver to young lovers and ex-cons. Hayes also diligently recorded his impressions—alongside conversations had and overheard—in personal journals, and he interweaves these observations throughout the book with anecdotes about his relationship with Sacks, who died of cancer in 2015. The author’s vignette-style recollections are especially endearing for the sensitive way they portray a 70-something Sacks coming into awareness of—and claiming—his own homosexuality as he fell in love with Hayes. But perhaps the greatest strength of the book is the way it weds one man’s openness to experience with what ultimately, and quite unexpectedly, became his two greatest passions: a closeted neurologist nearing the end of his life and a city in an endless state of flux and evolution.

A unique and exuberant celebration of life and love.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1620404935

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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