An undeniably gimmicky premise, but executed with enough humor, heart and authenticity to charm even the most skeptical...

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WHAT MAGAZINES TAUGHT ME ABOUT LOVE, SEX, AND STARTING OVER

“Is it so wrong to want to be bossed around by Helen Gurley Brown?” asks freelance writer Alter (Virgin Territory: Stories from the Road to Womanhood, 2004), who decided that for one year she would follow without question the advice she found in nine women’s magazines.

She was prompted by her reckless behavior in the wake of a divorce. The 37-year-old author was drinking and smoking heavily, splurging on $800 custom-made cowboy boots, bored to tears with her dead-end job at a D.C. legal-publishing firm and having midday sex in her cubicle with a co-worker she didn’t even really like. “Unable to stop the feeding frenzy of poor decisions” on her own, she turned to Cosmopolitan, O, InStyle, Real Simple and others of their ilk. Her experiment began timidly but not without bravado as she methodically tackled such personal issues as beauty, diet, spirit and relationships. Among the interesting cast of real-life characters were Alter’s shrink, Dr. Oskar, who had an unnerving habit of crying right alongside her in sessions; her best friend Jeanne, who loved her enough to tell her, “I don’t think I can be around you any longer”; and handsome Karl, whose overbearing Chinese mother deftly handed out guilt trips and stern advice in equal parts. As the author discovered that she wanted to incorporate Karl into her life for more than just one issue, a slow and powerful metamorphosis took place. Soon Alter began to battle her various neuroses, piecing together a new self image through small acts like learning how to properly wrap a sandwich in Saran wrap and discovering what language is best used to encourage a man to open up. “Anything can change a life that is ready to be changed,” she discovered, and readers will thank the author for providing motivation to make changes of their own.

An undeniably gimmicky premise, but executed with enough humor, heart and authenticity to charm even the most skeptical reader.

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7432-8840-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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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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