Candid, sagacious writing on illness and adaptation.

AGAIN

SURVIVING CANCER TWICE WITH LOVE AND LISTS

This no-nonsense debut memoir recalls Corrigan’s two-time battle with cancer and takes a pragmatic approach toward guiding other patients.

In 1981, at 14, Corrigan was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. At 48, and now a wife and mother to three children, the author was told that the cancer had returned in the form of invasive ductal carcinoma in her right breast. In her memoir, Corrigan intertwines both of her survival stories, comparing 20th- and 21st-century treatments. The book describes in unflinching detail the realities of cancer treatment, such as the side effects of drugs associated with chemotherapy: “The bone pain was worse than the blistering rash I had on my hands, arms, and feet.” She recounts the periods approaching her mastectomy and following implant surgery. Corrigan also addresses how she handled post-cancer life, including coming to terms with her prosthetic breasts and with the psychological trauma of illness that persists in recovery. Corrigan’s approach is straightforward and forthright. About having a mastectomy, she writes: “I didn’t think too much about it. My boobs were trying to kill me, and they needed to go.” Despite this directness, her writing is never flippant. Corrigan carefully elucidates her emotions and shares her joys and insecurities. Following her breast reconstruction, she confides: “I felt more like a woman again and less like a doll. I was so thrilled, I posted, The girls are back in town! on my Facebook wall.” Corrigan’s writing is highly approachable, addressing a well-considered range of topics, from exercise to feelings of isolation. Again, Corrigan’s crisp frankness offers a valuable source of sensitive, nonmedical advice on subjects such as the importance of self-trust: “If something feels off, don’t stew on it or ignore it. Talk to your health care team.” Although this memoir may be of most benefit to those diagnosed with breast cancer, Corrigan’s candor and positive approach could well prove a guiding light for those facing any type of serious illness.

Candid, sagacious writing on illness and adaptation.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64663-196-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Koehler Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2020

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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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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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