“Caring for parents has become the new normal for boomers,” writes Morris. Readers will likely find other books on the topic...

BOBBY WONDERFUL

AN IMPERFECT SON BURIES HIS PARENTS

A journalist’s memoir of coming to terms with the aging and deaths of his parents.

This book fits into what has become a genre unto itself, as baby boomers have reached the age where they are taking care of the parents who once took care of them, and advances of modern medicine have allowed some of those parents to live longer. By his own admission, Morris (Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad2008, etc.) was not a model caregiver, deferring much of that responsibility to his brother, and his parents weren’t what he would “have ordered from a parent catalogue.” The prelude to this “personal chronicle of ending” suggests that the book was inspired by the example of an acquaintance whose doting on his elderly parents stood in stark contrast to the author’s self-centeredness toward unwanted responsibilities and distractions. A travel writer, he found his trip to Scotland to sample Scotch ruined by the pleas from his brother to return home because their mother was dying. He didn’t want to interrupt his trip, but he could no longer enjoy it. His brother, to whom the book is dedicated, was “the family’s morality meter,” while the author was “more the wicked one…prodigal, cynical, and irresponsible.” After his mother’s death, his father embarked on a romance that seemed to revitalize him (and provided material for a theatrical performance the author mounted), but then he declined again. As the author tried to help his father through his depression and suffered the trials of caregiving, he sometimes seemed to wish his father had succeeded with his suicide attempt. “I’m all for the simple solution, the easy exit,” he says. Even his father complained about his son’s lack of commitment and compassion.

“Caring for parents has become the new normal for boomers,” writes Morris. Readers will likely find other books on the topic more illuminating and inspirational.

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4555-5650-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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