A sympathetic portrait of Mexican-American feminism (both in mother and daughter) delivered in a poignant, beautifully...

NATIVE COUNTRY OF THE HEART

A MEMOIR

A queer Latina feminist focuses on her ferocious, survivor mother from Tijuana.

In her moving portrait, Moraga (English/Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness: Writings, 2000-2010, 2011, etc.), the founder of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, examines her close but tortured relationship with her now-deceased mother. Elvira Isabel Moraga, who came of age in Tijuana’s golden era in the 1920s, “was not the stuff of literature.” The daughter of an “illusive trickster who shuttle[d] between worlds” and “rode the counterfeit borders of the Southwest with a vaquero flare of Mexican independence and macho bravado,” Elvira and her numerous siblings, born on the American side of the border, were hired out by their father for menial labor, essentially limiting her education (“her inability to read and write well remained an open wound”). As a teenager, Elvira secured work until the mid-1930s as a hat-check–and-cigarette girl at a high-stakes gambling room in Tijuana, eluding the advances of the casino's predatory owner. Ultimately, she met and married a man named Joseph, a “functionary” who operated the South Pasadena Santa Fe Railroad station. Together, they and their children moved east of Los Angeles, embracing the suburban dream that characterized much of post–World War II America. Born in 1952, author Moraga offers mesmerizing details of growing up there and in San Gabriel, a mixed-race community, near her grandmother, who served as the locus of myriad visits by relatives. Coming to terms with her sexuality during a progressive social era almost derailed the author’s relationship with her strict, volatile mother, but in the end, her mother assured her, “how could you think that there is anything in this life you could do that you wouldn’t be my daughter?” The author’s determination to learn Spanish and visit Mexico helped the two bond in her mother’s later years, which were marked by Alzheimer’s.

A sympathetic portrait of Mexican-American feminism (both in mother and daughter) delivered in a poignant, beautifully written way.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-21966-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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