What’s missing is humor. Every generation needs its Carrie Fisher, perhaps even its Hunter S. Thompson, but this isn’t it.

HOW TO MURDER YOUR LIFE

A MEMOIR

A memoir of addiction and the millennial high life.

The short answer to the instruction implied in the title is this: do a lot of drugs, drink to excess, be flaky and unreliable on the job, and take stupid risks. A one-time junior fashionista—“I always wanted to be a beauty editor. To me, being a beauty editor was better than being president of the United States!”—Marnell checks off these obligations dutifully, having been trained by a childhood of privilege and bewildered, clueless parents (“My mom was in there—snooping!”). From the manicured suburbs to trendiest Manhattan is but a short step, with an infinitely more interesting medicine cabinet than the usual Ritalin regime. Landing a gig at, yes, a fashion magazine, Marnell soon developed an “amphetamine work ethic” and learned the ropes of the trade, including how to land Vicodin and Percocet and hide her habit effectively—at least at work (“I kept the orange bottles in the zipper pocket of my mom’s Chloé Silverado bag—hidden away”). Naturally, the author also learned that the people who surrounded her chemical life were not the most dependable or nicest, four to a couch and doped to the gills (“ZZZZZZZ, one of the dudes snored. At least that meant he was alive”). Writing in her early 30s on the other side of it all, Marnell ends her account with the expected truisms (“Strong, healthy people just don’t interest the sickos of the world as much”) and Scarlett O’Hara–isms (“Someday I’ll find a man who treats me right”). It’s all delivered with studied earnestness and an eye to shock value, though there’s not much left that can shock us in this sad world: not Japanese pornography and not the louche vision of addicts with Jean Paul Gaultier gym bags.

What’s missing is humor. Every generation needs its Carrie Fisher, perhaps even its Hunter S. Thompson, but this isn’t it.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5227-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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