A truth-telling tour conducted by an agile guide.

TREEHAB

TALES FROM MY NATURAL, WILD LIFE

The first openly gay comedian to perform on the Tonight Show delivers a collection of witty essays exploring his remarkable career and life.

Since 2007, Smith, a successful comedian and author of both nonfiction and fiction (Remembrance of Things I Forgot, 2011, etc.), has lived with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and even though he now communicates through his iPad, his wit is as sharp as ever: “I’d like to tell God what a dick he is for creating ALS and punch him—if I could still make a fist.” In his latest book, he writes about being a father, his past romantic encounters, his love of animals, his group of close friends he calls the Nature Boys, and his career as a comedian. Smith’s love of nature started early when he received a subscription to the children’s version of National Geographic. Engaging with the environment and all its delights and discomforts forms the core of the narrative, offering observations on a variety of natural environments and details about his trips to Santa Fe, the Malibu hills, Alaska, and Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Each essay provides a glimpse into Smith’s thought processes on diverse subjects, including how to confront homophobic hecklers while on stage, the joys of parenthood, and his love of “all things Native American.” Smith concedes that though his disease has been a trial, it has given him the opportunity to speak openly about any topic he wishes. “I was now blessed with a free pass to discuss all religions and beliefs after I was forced to confront the fact that my relation to the universe might expire,” he writes. Though the author holds strong opinions, his essays are funny and intimate without being self-indulgent. Never moving too far from his comedic nature, Smith delivers one-liners throughout, and nothing is off-limits.

A truth-telling tour conducted by an agile guide.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-299-31050-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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