A largely toothless and perfunctory look back at an extraordinary career—it may be cool to not give a damn, but here it...

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME

A MEMOIR

Jock, joke, movie star, centerfold: the many lives of Burt Reynolds.

Reynolds is a true movie star of the old school, a figure of tremendous charm and charisma. Unfortunately, these qualities do not extend to Reynolds the memoirist, as this desultory account of his life and career fails to evoke the sense of roguish fun so familiar from his many appearances on talk shows over the decades. With the assistance of Winokur (The Big Book of Irony, 2007, etc.), who also co-authored James Garner’s memoir, Reynolds dutifully sketches his early life as if checking items off a list, only perking up when discussing the peccadilloes of his football chums. While this material demonstrates some level of engagement, it’s a bit like suffering through a narcissistic stranger’s tales of schoolyard glory. Reynolds structures the book as a collage, forgoing a strict chronological narrative to offer chapters on specific people and experiences that have most deeply affected his development. The best of these is an extended reminiscence of the filming of Deliverance, a landmark film and his professional breakthrough; the author’s account of the filming is entertaining and insightful. Mostly, though, Reynolds regards his career with a self-deprecating shrug. He declines to dish much dirt, despite his longtime status as tabloid scandalfodder (ex-wife Loni Anderson comes in for some mild criticism), preferring to extoll the virtues of the likes of Dinah Shore, Jon Voight, Johnny Carson, Bette Davis, and others in the most generically positive terms. Missing are the caustic wit, effortless magnetism, and bracing go-to-hell attitude that made Reynolds such a potent cultural presence in his prime. His remarks about Boogie Nights, the late-career film that revived his reputation and earned him an Oscar nomination, are telling: he didn’t get it and didn’t like it.

A largely toothless and perfunctory look back at an extraordinary career—it may be cool to not give a damn, but here it makes for an uninvolving reading experience.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-17354-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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