Sketches of a Small Town...circa 1940...a memoir

A memoir of growing up in a small Southern town during the Great Depression and World War II by doctor and author Meador (Fascinomas, 2013).
After attending the funeral of John Sherling, one of his two best boyhood friends, Meador realized that the story of his youth in Greenville, Alabama, might be interesting to his descendants, and to general readers. Growing up, he says, he was unaware that some of the people he knew—cross-dressing Juan Carlos, intellectually challenged “Frog,” mother-daughter prostitute team Louise and Pearl, fearless prankster Leon, and his two best friends, Sherling and Charles Chambliss—would be unique characters anywhere, let alone in tiny Greenville, where people were categorized by religion, gas brand preference and men’s-club membership. Some aspects of Greenville life, however, were not at all unique for a Southern town, including the acceptance of racial segregation and the contrast between city and country life. Meador tells the unvarnished truth about his adolescence; he doesn’t try to inflict 21st century sensibilities on his youth, nor does he attempt to prove that his beliefs were significantly different from those of other Alabamians of the time. His younger self’s burgeoning teenage libido also receives extensive attention. At times, however, the book’s remembrances seem emotionally detached, whether due to the passage of years or a deliberate choice. For example, the book mentions the loss of the author’s mother to colon cancer merely as background to other stories, and as the reason he and his father began taking meals at Mrs. Riley’s boardinghouse, when her death was likely a huge, watershed moment in the family’s life. To his credit, however, Meador resists giving in to the nostalgic conceit that life was better when he was young.

A solid, if not emotionally insightful, memoir for fans of stories of the American South, the Great Depression and the homefront of World War II.

Pub Date: June 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499174397

Page Count: 188

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

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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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