A sturdy transitional volume that finds Barnes reflecting on her first and anticipating her next.

READ REVIEW

MALAYA

ESSAYS ON FREEDOM

A collection of essays extends and expands on the themes introduced in the author’s highly regarded memoir, Monsoon Mansion (2018).

Barnes’ first book introduced a gifted writer with a compelling story about her life in the Philippines. After her father left the family, her mother became unstable. The author was adopted by an American family, but the law said she was too old for the necessary paperwork, so she remained an undocumented teenager, working jobs that paid her in cash—e.g., cleaning houses, taking care of children, working at a laundry and at a cafe. Her schoolwork promised a pathway out, and she did well, particularly after switching to a journalism major and finding her voice and the stories that only she could tell. Barnes married a fellow graduate student, a white man raised in the South, who was the first in his family to marry a woman of color. Then the couple had a baby girl, a mixed-race child in the South, and questions of belonging and assimilation became exponentially more complicated. “He’s well aware of the sadness of this place,” the author writes of her husband, “how lonely it must be for me—an outsider who married someone who also feels like an outsider.” He says that it kills him to know that here, I talk, but without the freedom to speak about topics that interest me.” Though childbirth brought emotional trauma and postpartum depression, it also opened the creative floodgates. “My body had given birth to a human, but my body also wanted to expel something more,” writes Barnes. “It wanted to flush out the accumulation of hurt and sorrow and fear, three things all immigrants pack with them….My memories let out onto paper and bled onto the page as words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs.” Those paragraphs became essays, and those collected here have enough cohesion and continuity that they could almost pass as a second volume of memoir.

A sturdy transitional volume that finds Barnes reflecting on her first and anticipating her next.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9330-9

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more