An ebullient portrait of a marriage.

TELL ME A STORY

MY LIFE WITH PAT CONROY

A chronicle of love, humor, and creativity.

In 1995, at a gathering of the Southern Voices Literary Conference, Conroy (The Same Sweet Girls’ Guide to Life: Advice From a Failed Southern Belle, 2014, etc.) first met an author she deeply admired: Pat Conroy (1945-2016), whose 1986 novel, The Prince of Tides, had been a bestseller and was made into an Oscar-nominated movie. An “imposing and vibrant presence,” he exuded “an undeniable aura of magnetism and charm.” With her first novel due to come out, she was floored when he offered to provide a blurb and amazed a short time later when he called her—and kept calling her for the next two years. When he finally suggested that they meet in person, both felt as if they were old friends, and their relationship evolved into a love affair and, in 1998, marriage. The author brings her talents as a storyteller to a warm, candid memoir of their years together, ending with Pat’s death from cancer. When they first met, the author, recently divorced, was emerging from severe depression. Living alone in a studio apartment, she barely supported herself and her sons with various teaching jobs, trying to eke out time to write. Pat was divorced, too, although usually entangled in affairs; and he, too, had been left “depleted, despondent, and hollow-eyed with despair” after his last marriage ended. “I need someone to rescue me for a change,” Pat told her. She was buoyed by his humor and emotional generosity, though as she came to know him, she realized that he was “a complicated man who [hid] his deepest feelings behind a devil-may-care demeanor.” They nurtured each other’s creativity, publishing five books during their time together, and Pat pushed her to go on book tours to publicize her work. The author recounts in lively detail the stresses and joys of daily life: family gatherings, Pat’s recurring health problems, and their mutual love of the South Carolina marshland.

An ebullient portrait of a marriage.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-290562-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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