Some vulnerability mixed with crass, frat-boy humor.

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THE MEMOIR

The story of how a "white trash troublemaker" from Scottsdale created a successful career as a comedic supporting character in TV and movies.

In his first book, Spade details the years before the fame—feeling ashamed to borrow money from friends, crashing on their couches in Los Angeles and New York, accepting low-paying gigs at comedy clubs—and his disappointment even after getting the plum job for which he is perhaps best known: a cast member on Saturday Night Live. He started out as a "lowly writer/performer,” not an on-stage performer, a position he craved, and he explains how he often he felt he was “legitimately in over my head.” Nonetheless, Spade remained in the writers' room, frustrated as he was “punching up sketches that I wasn’t in (sour grapes alert).” It took several seasons before he finally found his voice as an important recurring character: the sarcastic Hollywood correspondent on the show’s "Weekend Update” segment. The author educates readers on the mechanics of putting together a weekly, 90-minute, live comedy show—e.g., why the sketch that closes the show is dubbed the "5-to-1"—and his anecdotes about the show’s hosts and musical acts are mostly amusing. His kinship with fellow SNL cast member Chris Farley remained strong throughout their shared, blockbuster movie career—though the author devotes only a short chapter to Farley's premature death. In recounting his adolescence, Spade recalls that he wasn't the class clown: "I wasn't the loud attention getter.” Curiously, the author provides scant acknowledgment of his TV work on Just Shoot Me! and Rules of Engagement, and he barely mentions his nominations for several industry awards. He does, however, provide copious, often crude accounts of his disappointments with his early sex life—and his successes later on.

Some vulnerability mixed with crass, frat-boy humor.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-237697-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

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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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