Elegant, eloquent, and deeply personal.

A YEAR WITHOUT A NAME

A MEMOIR

A journalist and activist’s debut memoir about the fraught year preceding their decision to “correct my aberrated [gender] condition” and become a trans man.

Dunham knew from childhood that they were different. While their parents and friends “cherished me for being a little girl,” the author knew that they were “tricking” those people. Adolescence was an especially traumatic time. The author felt compelled to fit in with girls but also secretly desired them and dreamed of tying them up. Filled with self-loathing for being a “pervert,” Dunham deliberately tried to make their developing body disappear through starvation diets. As they grew into adulthood, they became increasingly aware of a misalignment between their body and their sense of who they were. This dysphoria created a “bodily claustrophobia” that made Dunham seek relief through painful relationships that never satisfied. The first was with a girl who told them that she wanted them to be “her best friend, her sister, her mother” but did not want them to be her lover. Another was with a lesbian woman who introduced Dunham to polyamory and an “existential dread” that wrought havoc with their sense of self. An especially intense relationship involved a bisexual woman who made Dunham feel that they were a “fiction” with no substance. Renewing acquaintance with a trans woman who had begun the journey toward physically manifesting femininity ultimately had the most profound effect on Dunham. That relationship forced them to not only confront the clearness of their existence and modes of desire. It also inspired Dunham to overcome a deep-seated fear of transforming their body to more closely match their complex inner identity. Candid and compassionate, this book offers a view of one person’s trans experience that defies categorization as much as it defies resolution.

Elegant, eloquent, and deeply personal.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-44496-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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