A worthy selection of ardent musings, timely issues, and perceptive prose.

FALLING BEDROOMS

OUR LIVES IN THE QUANTUM FIELD

This fifth installment of a series centered on Princeton examines themes of race, media manipulation, and time traveling via the subconscious.

Clovis’ (Time Is the Length to Forever, 2018, etc.) latest volume, like the preceding novels, comprises short chapters and stories. Many of these deal with racism. The author, for example, tells of slaves in the United States traveling through Princeton on their way to freedom in the North. But slavery unfortunately existed at that time in the city. And though slavery and segregation have been abolished, the author astutely notes instances of racism and discrimination still happening today. She asserts that CBS’ “all white staff” that will cover the 2020 presidential election shows the lack of diversity among journalists. Other chapters sharply criticize media-related incidents, including the murder of journalists chasing civil or political stories and people getting their news from Facebook, which sells users’ personal data. But the author promotes positivity as well, from the celebrated release of the Gregory Hines postage stamp to the upcoming 50-year commemoration of Sesame Street. Throughout her series, Clovis has discussed assessing the past, present, and future via “the quantum field of consciousness,” which combines theories from Jung and Einstein. In this book, she skillfully traverses the “labyrinth of the subconscious” in successive chapters. It’s a surreal but engaging section: The White Rabbit of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland assigns Clovis the task of retrieving the red sap of the Dragon’s Blood Tree. Even with this break in reality, the author’s prose evokes a visually arresting scene: “The garden grows and expands, breaking boundaries, to reveal the steep terrain of a Vertigo dizzying mountain.” Clovis’ dreamlike journey entails traveling to the past and future, but also deftly reflects her personal feelings and experiences. One of the most telling scenes is when the author enters a restaurant of white linens and walls, filled with white patrons who stop eating to stare at the sole dark-skinned diner.

A worthy selection of ardent musings, timely issues, and perceptive prose.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2019

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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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