``I HAVE ARRIVED BEFORE MY WORDS''

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WRITINGS OF HOMELESS WOMEN

An anthology of homeless women's writings that offers a glimpse of inner lives rarely seen. This collection grew out of the editors' experiences as participants in WritersCorps, a division of AmeriCorps, President Clinton's community service program. WritersCorps offers writers a small stipend and the opportunity to teach at-risk youth, substance abusers, and others whose stories are seldom heard. Pugh and Tietjen, clearly very gifted teachers, ran writing workshops for homeless and incarcerated women in Washington, D.C.; some of the memoirs produced in those workshops are offered here. Despite the hardships she has faced, Georgia's clearest memories, drawn from her rural southern past, are almost idyllic—she remembers, for instance, making pancakes that met with her tough grandfather's approval. Gayle writes about her crack addiction. Ann, who has been diagnosed as manic-depressive, writes of how it felt to be discharged from the US military. Hers is perhaps the most engaging piece, because she writes frankly about her often unnerving behavior. Dionne is the poet whose lyrics provide the anthology's powerful title. She is in prison, HIV-positive, and recovering from drug addiction and sexual abuse. Angie has struggled with both mental illness and physical disability while raising three sons. The women's narratives all provide the solid beginnings of stories, but most leave numerous questions unanswered. The editors realize this, and have tried to fill in the holes with their own lengthy, somewhat intrusive interpretive essays, which add biographical information about the writers; we end up hearing too much of Pugh and Tietjen's voices and not enough of the homeless women's. But despite some awkwardness in presentation, these stories deserve the attention of anyone interested in the power of autobiography to redeem a life.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 1997

ISBN: 0-9647124-2-3

Page Count: 220

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996

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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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