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Walking The Crooked Path

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Using clever commentary and realistic reassurance, King’s comforting memoir details his struggle with early-onset Parkinson’s disease.
Squirming in a doctor’s chair, convinced nothing is wrong with him, King sees the problem arrive in a storm of immediacy and doubt. His doctor informs him that, due to symptoms of aching, stiffness and limping, he is likely in the beginning stages of early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Stubborn and opinionated, King is almost insulted by the diagnosis. He desperately attempts to reason with his doctor: “[B]ut I’m too young for Parkinson’s….[I]t’s only on one side,” he says. “I don’t shake all that much.” As the memoir continues, readers are exposed to the idiosyncrasies, past and present, that have built his distinctive outer toughness and inner insecurity. King the author develops a strong portrait of King the protagonist, testing his strength of character against the traumas of a strenuous, sometimes-impossible coping process. The details of his childhood, military career and marriage portray a complex array of emotions that move the reader through the distress of Parkinson’s and the effect it has on his life. Despite the subject matter, however, the outlook isn’t bleak. The author balances the strife of deterioration, both mental and physical, with sharp wit and dry sarcasm: “ ‘executive dysfunction’…it sounds like a bad quote from a Dilbert cartoon, it’s related to the ability to multitask, to think abstractly, to remember and apply facts, and to interpret motivations and read situations effectively.” This harmonious balance gives the narrative an ultimately positive outlook, lightening the intense subject matter. The memoir outlines the achievements and disappointments of the coping process, assuring readers that no process works the same for everyone and that the ultimate medicines are love and support from one’s family. The text can be repetitive in parts, and certain digressions into back story—particularly the sections about his time in the military—slow the narrative’s momentum. Yet as a whole, King’s story is humbling and inspiring, sparkling with honesty, humor and faith.
An engrossing, informative read for anyone intrigued by the concept of finding peace and happiness while in the grips of terminal illness.

Pub Date: April 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500228422

Page Count: 110

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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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