A memorable, laugh-out-loud, cry-out-loud essay collection for both genders and all ages.

READING LIPS

A MEMOIR OF KISSES

Connected autobiographical essays woven around the theme of kissing.

Sternbach (Now Breathe: A Very Personal Journey Through Breast Cancer, 1999), the editor in chief of the literary journal Memoir (and), is an impressive stylist and a candid guide through her life. Although the reality of kissing serves as the connecting thread, each essay is grounded in one of a wide variety of complementary topics, such as the first love as an adolescent, best friends, parents, sisters, birthdays, tennis, summer camp, air travel, marriage, divorce, cancer, rape and death—among others. Sternbach has carefully considered how to make a life story interesting through unusual yet approachable formatting, and she throws humor, sarcasm and self-deprecation into the mix. Characters from the author's life appear, disappear and then reappear unexpectedly in different essays. One of those characters is a sixth-grade boy worshipped by the author as a fifth grader. She hears a rumor from reliable sources that the boy plans to kiss her on a certain day, but, due to unexpected circumstances, the kiss never takes place. Sternbach remembers the boy sporadically through the decades. When he re-enters her life, never having kissed her, it is because of his premature death. The author’s younger twin sisters also figure prominently in the book—they “have always been a source of great material even when they didn't know it.” Sternbach mostly avoids discussion of her two failed marriages, but her third (and current) husband plays a major role, especially in an essay about how they met and fell in love. The birth of their daughter provides an occasion for multiple kisses, not to mention an unforgettable hospital-birthing essay.

A memorable, laugh-out-loud, cry-out-loud essay collection for both genders and all ages.

Pub Date: April 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60953-037-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Unbridled Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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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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