A passionate, occasionally convoluted account of personal redemption.



A best-selling memoirist tells the story of how he survived—and came to terms with—the traumatic near-deaths of his youngest brother and former fiancee.

Martinez’s (The Boy Kings of Texas, 2012) youngest brother, Derek, was born to parents whose marriage was “crippled by rot.” Spoiled with attention as a child, Derek hero-worshipped his hard-living, hard-drinking older brother. But he also suffered deeply when his parents divorced and the mother he adored shunted him off to live with one relative after another. So when Martinez, who went to live in Seattle, learned that his brother was in a coma as a result of an alcohol-related blackout and fall, he felt profound guilt. His misery was compounded by the fact he chose not to return to Texas due to a feud with another brother. But Martinez could not escape his own conscience and found himself “collecting little brothers” in his neighborhood. Then he met Stephanie, a troubled bisexual woman whose “anguish…brokenness…and misfit qualit[ies]” mirrored his own. The pair hurried into a dysfunctional engagement. At the same time, Martinez befriended an older woman named Sarah, with whom he fell deeply in love. The author eventually broke off his relationship with Stephanie, but not long afterward, she drove her car off a cliff. Like Derek, she suffered brain injury, went into a coma and survived; unlike him, she had the shocked and bewildered Martinez by her side until she recovered. At Sarah’s insistence, Martinez began to write because “it was going to be [his] only way out” and the way he could finally align the “drunken compass” of his broken heart. This tragicomic memoir is not just about the complications of family, but also about the power of narrative to heal and make whole.

A passionate, occasionally convoluted account of personal redemption.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1493001408

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Globe Pequot

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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 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...


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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