Contains moments of charm, but offers little in the way of originality, insight or resonance.

ASSISTED LOVING

TRUE TALES OF DOUBLE DATING WITH MY DAD

A tale of father-and-son bonding from New York Times Sunday Styles columnist Morris.

The author was 44 when his mother passed away; his father Joe was nearing 80. Bob wanted to mourn and celebrate his mother, then move forward with his life. Joe wanted to do the same, but to him, moving forward meant finding himself a babe. Bob didn’t initially approve; he thought it might be a bit too soon for Dad to be dating. But he soon found himself sucked into his father’s quest and eventually spent an inordinate amount of time (successfully) procuring women for this elderly social butterfly. Bob began writing a column about Joe’s hunt for love, and the dating pool grew exponentially. What with all of Bob’s aiding and abetting, father and son grew closer than ever, leading to a happy (and schmaltzy) conclusion. Morris, who performed a truncated version of this book as a monologue at an off-Broadway theater in 2006, is a clever linguist; at one point he notes of his new boyfriend, “I like the Irish. Jack was gorgeously, redheadedly Irish.” Such turns of phrase, however, seem to work better on the stage than the page, and the Bob and Joe story is more fit for a brief performance—or an even briefer newspaper column—than a full-length book. The Morrises would be an enjoyable odd couple to have over for dinner, but they’re the kind of folks you’d forget about immediately after they left—the same can be said for this sweet but fluffy outing.

Contains moments of charm, but offers little in the way of originality, insight or resonance.

Pub Date: June 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-137412-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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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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