A revelatory meditation on reading, writing, and editing.


A celebration of a favorite writer deepens into an unexpectedly complex and ambivalent response.

Evenson (Critical Studies/CalArts; The Warren, 2016, etc.) first read Carver’s classic collection of minimalist fiction when he was an 18-year-old student intent on learning to write fiction himself. He wasn’t well-versed in Carver’s contemporaries, so he came to him from an unorthodox direction: “I had Beckett and Kafka as models for what I hoped literature could do,” he writes. “Which probably made me see Carver in a very eccentric light.” Adding to the eccentricity of the experience was the fact that Evenson was a Mormon and therefore abstained from alcohol, which fueled almost all of these stories and was such a struggle for Carver. Yet Evenson’s close readings proved profoundly influential, as he felt that Carver’s stories had “a productive ambiguity that stimulates a creative energy that keeps them active and alive in a way that books more insistent on ‘meaning something’ don’t manage.” Seeing Carver’s seminal fiction through Evenson’s eyes will bring readers back to the work fresh. Then things get trickier. Like the rest of the literary world, Evenson discovered just how aggressively editor Gordon Lish had refocused these stories, in some cases cutting as much as 80 percent from Carver’s original manuscript. As Carver moved away from the severity of such minimalism and published more detailed versions of some of these stories, Evenson thought that the new versions “felt less like the Carver I knew and more like stories that didn’t have his distinctive imprint.” Further complicating the issue is the fact that Evenson would subsequently have some ambivalent experiences with Lish as his editor and some stonewalling from the Carver estate while researching a piece on the Lish-Carver relationship. The author leaves no question that he remains grateful for the stories as he first encountered them and prefers them to the versions Carver favored, yet he identifies with how the author felt like an “imposter.”

A revelatory meditation on reading, writing, and editing.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63246-061-5

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Ig Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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 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...


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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