QUEER AND LOATHING

RANTS AND RAVES OF A RAGING AIDS CLONE

Feinberg's reflections on AIDS are often annoying and mediocre, frequently witty, and sometimes deeply disturbing. Novelist Feinberg (Eighty-Sixed, 1989) starts out unpromisingly. The first and title essay of the collection is burdened by zeitgeist clichÇs (e.g., ``I plead the Twinkie defense''), patronizing scorn for the reader's supposed ``bleeding liberal heart,'' overuse of italics for emphasis, and insights more appropriate to a T-shirt than an essay (``Reality is for people who can't cope with drugs''). After that piece, though, the writing picks up. With dark humor and rage, Feinberg brings us to ACT UP meetings and demonstrations and recounts the deaths, funerals, and memorial services of his friends. He also chronicles his own physical decay in unsparing detail; some of these sections are so visceral that they are hard to read. In lighter moments, he reflects on red ribbons, the gym, and the etiquette of HIV disclosure. Though Feinberg's humor can fall flat, most of the essays have their moments: At one point he muses, ``Gays call straights breeders...I'm sure we'll come up with a derogatory term for neggies [HIV-negative people] soon enough: Aseptic? Hermetically sealed?'' His rudeness can be delightful; on a bus, he tells some young people pondering the meaning of life to keep it down, ``because some of us are thirty and we have already had these conversations.'' Sometimes his campy, flippant style seems trivializing, but it can be highly appropriate, as when he exposes the cynical selling of AIDS, from criminally insensitive direct- mail campaigns for AIDS organizations (one group's letter begins ``Before he died, he asked me to mail this to you'') to LifeStyle Urns (cremation urns marketed specifically to people with AIDS and their survivors—some even come engraved with a lambda symbol). Despite this collection's title, Feinberg is no Hunter S. Thompson, but he does have an effective, biting edge.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-670-85766-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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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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