A dog lover’s warmhearted delight.

WHAT IS A DOG?

A MEMOIR

In her first book, Shaw reflects on the meaning of canine companionship and how dogs transformed her life.

After the family dog, Booker, died, a grieving Shaw began contemplating not only what her beloved canine did for her, but also the fears that had been her constant companions. The author was an only child, and her mother's Afghan hound, Easy, became her first “Dog-Sister” and helped her navigate the space between loving parents who avoided strong emotions. Later, a Scottie named Agatha 2 became the first canine to get “lodged in my heart.” The pair grew so attached that the author herself was almost indistinguishable from Agatha 2, with relationships to her “humans” that mirrored those her Scottie had with them. Yet Agatha 2 could not save Shaw from the anxiety that gnawed her from within and manifested as “horribly ravaged fingernails” in an otherwise well-groomed adolescence. Her first teenage love, Josh, taught her how to intimately know herself but caused her guilt for spending time away from an aging Agatha 2. Her dog’s death coincided with a cancer diagnosis for Josh’s mother and high school graduation. Shaw decided to break up with Josh, and when she fell in love again, it would be with her future husband and Booker, a dog she realized had united the “Dog, Girl, Woman, Wife, Mother,” only to shatter her with his death. “Just as Booker’s life so exquisitely fused my separate selves,” she writes, “Booker’s death left me splintered all over again.” Forced to confront her anxiety, Shaw came to understand that the only way to remain whole was to “let in the dogs” of her own fears and feelings. This poignant and gracefully written memoir amply embraces the complexities of the human-dog relationship in a uniquely personal way, and it’s also a moving story of self-acceptance.

A dog lover’s warmhearted delight.

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-21074-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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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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