Sassy societal commentary muddled by a lack of cohesion or a satisfying conclusion.

NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL

A MEMOIR

Bauer’s relatable but unremarkable debut memoir describes growing up and attempting to define herself while also keeping her faith in God.

Raised in the New Jersey suburbs during the 1970s, the author received an “accelerated Christian education,” primarily from Old Testament stories, in a school operated out of a church basement. She was taught that she should put her self aside to serve God, and warnings about imminent Armageddon made her an anxious, fearful child. Her peers at Christian school were told to avoid television and radio, but she watched MTV and loved rock ’n’ roll. Skeptical of religious fanaticism but still holding tight to her faith, Bauer wittily reveals the insufficiencies and insincerities of church and Christian paraphernalia. In high school and college, she observed the world of drinking, sex and drugs but did not partake. She dated boys and attended frat parties for “research” purposes while seeking guidance from authors like Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. Virginal and sober, she discovered a love of poetry and the possibility of living a faith-based life with some flexibility, but she remained shy and insecure. She moved to New York City, aspiring to write and to create a new identity. She dug deeper into religion, society and herself, but repeatedly came back empty-handed. After sampling different denominations and ways of living, she finally gave up on the church and, later, God. As Bauer describes a slew of failed relationships, characters come and go too quickly for attachment, and the book devolves into a stream-of-consciousness narrative occasionally interrupted by events. Sarcasm and dry humor give way to a more desperate tone as her search for meaning becomes harder and her list of questions longer. She never finds any real answers, and readers may find themselves as confused and discouraged as the author.

Sassy societal commentary muddled by a lack of cohesion or a satisfying conclusion.

Pub Date: July 28, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-084054-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more