Even those who only dimly remember Royce White, Pavement, or Gnarls Barkley will find the reflections on them engaging.

CHUCK KLOSTERMAN X

A HIGHLY SPECIFIC, DEFIANTLY INCOMPLETE HISTORY OF THE EARLY 21ST CENTURY

A collection of journalistic pieces that remain provocative, or at least interesting, even if the subjects that inspired them have faded from memory.

In his 10th book, pop-culture contrarian Klosterman (But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present as If It Were the Past, 2016, etc.) suggests that he has matured more gracefully than many of those he has written about. He built his career as the anti-critic critic, the guy who embraced hair metal and didn’t care much for a lot of what music critics claimed to love. Or, as he writes in one of his more recent introductions to older pieces, “one of the things I love about covering uncool artists is that groups widely described as ‘hated’ are almost always more popular than groups who are described as ‘beloved,’ ” referring to a piece on the critically reviled Creed and Nickelback. On that same page, he remarks, of a longer retrospective, “I don’t expect most people who buy this book will read a ten-thousand-word essay on KISS. It is, however, twice as good as a five-thousand-word essay on KISS.” Though it has been tempting to dismiss Klosterman as a one-trick pony, claiming black where others (in print at least) see white, the best work offers insight into the relations among artist, art, and audience that goes considerably deeper. The profiles of Taylor Swift, Kobe Bryant, and Jonathan Franzen will leave readers with fresh appreciation for both the subjects and the journalist, who understands how the three are similar in terms of what they have accomplished and what challenges they have faced in terms of popular perception. It is possible that nobody has ever understood Swift better on the page, while the Franzen piece falls a little short of that for reasons Klosterman explains: “We are both working writers with vaguely similar lives. He, however, is more talented, more successful, and considerably more respected….There was a power imbalance, recognized by both of us.”

Even those who only dimly remember Royce White, Pavement, or Gnarls Barkley will find the reflections on them engaging.

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-18415-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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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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