An undemanding yet deeply felt memoir of a life lived through melody, lyrics, and the limelight of hard-won fame.

THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG

A MEMOIR

The driven life of an award-winning, hit-producing singer/songwriter.

Sager’s star-studded memoir begins with her personal recollections of growing up an indulgent “sneak eater” in the shadow of an anxious, pragmatic mother and a beloved father who died of heart failure just as her first hit song, “A Groovy Kind of Love,” ascended the pop charts in 1965. Music grounded the author from a young age as she found herself writing songs as a teenager in the early 1960s, then abandoning a teaching career to write lyrics full time. Sager’s treasury of chart-topping music includes “That’s What Friends Are For,” the Academy Award–winning “Arthur’s Theme,” and the book’s title, from a Neil Simon–created 1978 Broadway musical based on the author’s enchanted relationship with Marvin Hamlisch. Sager writes forthrightly about the irrationality of fears haunting her throughout her adolescence and into adulthood. Afraid of contracting polio in childhood, she grew into a successful woman battling a crippling fear of flying. These anxieties, she admits, “led me to my long-standing relationship with sleeping pills.” However, these hurdles take a back seat to Sager’s true passion for music, which comes through in enlightening chapters spotlighting her songwriting efforts for artists like Bette Midler and Carly Simon and, in later years, with Hamlisch and Burt Bacharach, whom she married in the 1980s and adored enough to endure a series of body enhancement surgeries “to look like I belonged with [him].” Socially, Sager nurtured a friendship with Elizabeth Taylor and, for better or worse, wrote career-reviving music for Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. While sensitively chronicling her numerous ups and downs, the author is generous in her sharing of the anecdotes behind the music. The narrative is breezy and accessible, with writing that plays to the strengths of her crisp sense of humor, deep attachment to music, and resonant lust for life.

An undemanding yet deeply felt memoir of a life lived through melody, lyrics, and the limelight of hard-won fame.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5326-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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