CHICAGO DAYS/HOBOKEN NIGHTS

Funnyman Pinkwater has written ``about 50'' children's books and illustrated most of them. For the past few years he's been doing short, laid-back spots on NPR. This book, sprung from the radio pieces, ``turns out,'' he says, ``to be a fragmentary autobiography.'' Just don't expect the kind of facts you'd get from Current Biography; Pinkwater has more interest in relating anecdotes, or just observing through his own bemused eyes. And so, in mostly one- to three-page bits suitable for reading in the bathroom, Pinkwater muses on or recollects some odd and ordinary moments from his Chicago childhood and later Zen-like art training there, his ``instructional malnutrition'' as a college art-student, his other spells and travels here and there, and his 12 years in Hoboken, ``my spiritual home for the rest of my life''—a ``quaint'' community preoccupied with crime and politics, ``which sometimes overlap,'' and inhabited by ``da-salt-u-da-eart, with some of the highest-grade eccentrics and loonies mixed in.'' Today he lives in an old farmhouse in upstate New York, where he is getting to know the crows, even though ``the guy who owned this little farm before we did had one of those psychoses in which the idea of being in America and killing everything living in the area are mixed in together.'' The book is all small stuff: An entry from recent years tells of his panic on hearing a slow-talking radio guy announce an upcoming concert of music by ``Daniel...Pink...ham.'' In the end, you might not know what Pinkwater's father actually did for a living...or how he met his wife...or much about his writing. But you might feel fond of this wiggy talent who has at least kept you smiling. And Pinkwater fans can have the fun of recognizing germs of his fiction here and there.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 1991

ISBN: 0-201-52359-0

Page Count: 175

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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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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