Forthright, entertaining essays that portray all the love, struggle, and anguish of being a woman and a mother.

MOTHERS OF SPARTA

A MEMOIR IN PIECES

A collection of quirky, funny, sad, and moving short personal essays that compress the author’s life into the snippets and moments that shaped who she is today.

Davies, whose work has appeared in various journals and the Best American Essays 2015, doesn’t offer a detailed, exhaustive account of raising her children or of her own childhood. Rather, she gracefully distills her formative experiences into a purer form, capturing each time frame with a few apt examples that illustrate the impact they had on her. Readers will sense the author’s loneliness and despair at the constant moves she made as a child. "You should have known,” she writes. “Your happiness should have told you. As soon as you get used to the things in a place, as soon as you find your footing, as soon as you give yourself permission to like it, it is time to go." This early feeling hovered over Davies as she grew into adulthood, married, had children, and toiled through a divorce. She recounts how she offered solace to a young car accident victim but took years to comprehend the magnitude of that moment; struggled with her pregnancies and postpartum depression; and found humor in the stoicism of a New England Thanksgiving dinner. She also shares her many conflicting emotions regarding the joys and challenges of raising an autistic son. Throughout, Davies balances the positive and negative elements of motherhood, and in one laugh-out-loud section, she offers her picks for “Men I Would Have Slept With” (before her marriage), an intriguing list that includes Frederick Douglass, Jeff Buckley, Jason Bateman, LeBron James, and Ben Carson (!), among others. In the kaleidoscopic array of experiences she has chosen to share, readers will feel the depth and breadth of this woman's life.

Forthright, entertaining essays that portray all the love, struggle, and anguish of being a woman and a mother.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-13370-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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