MODERN NATURE

Gay British filmmaker Jarman, who was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1986, follows up his cannon-blast memoir At Your Own Risk (1992) and his memoir of ``my Queerlife,'' Dancing Ledge (p. 505), with his 1989-90 diary of his days fighting his demons while facing the prospect of full-blown AIDS. The diary's overall theme is that of Jarman's illness and what he's doing about it. He begins filming The Garden—a kind of gay Garden of Gethsemane story set in the exquisitely kept (or at least exquisitely described) garden he tends at his coastal cottage at bleak Dungeness. Now and then, the diary looks back frankly at his youth, then at his now-faded love life, or rather sex life, since his friend Howard still lavishes much care and love on him throughout. What there's no getting around here is the immense ``footage'' Jarman gives to his garden, with page after page of silverpoint about his plants and flowers—growths that for most readers will register as totally unfamiliar. But no matter: It's Jarman's tie to his garden that counts—how it invigorates him, though temporary illnesses strike, including bronchitis and blindness. His film War Requiem is a bust, lasting but one week in New York before being pulled. His first week's rushes on The Garden are glaringly bad, ``out-of-focus shots, shots that fall like confetti. 16mm deadly, with no resonance. There is not a shot that is not ugly.'' When he finally begins taking AZT, the results aren't much better. Then the New York Film Festival turns down The Garden. Even so, ``I want to bear witness how happy I am, and will be until the day I die, that I was part of the hated sexual revolution; and that I don't regret a single step or encounter I made in that time....'' Courageous stuff, often very well written. (Nineteen b&w photographs)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1994

ISBN: 0-87951-520-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1993

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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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