The lesson in this surprisingly heartfelt memoir by an iconic American tattoo artist is that the man is not always the brand.

WEAR YOUR DREAMS

MY LIFE IN TATTOOS

Hardy’s memoir/cautionary tale about art, commerce, skin and ink, written with the assistance of San Francisco Chronicle music writer Selvin (co-author: Peppermint Twist: The Mob, the Music, and the Most Famous Dance Club of the ’60s, 2012, etc.).

In the relatively closed world of tattoo artists, Hardy was a groundbreaking figure, tattooing sailors and longshoremen in states where the artistry was illegal. Sadly, most people know Hardy’s name from the ubiquitous brand foisted upon a specific demographic of young men by French fashionista Christian Audigier. (See comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates’ “This Party Took a Turn for the Douche” and “#124 Hating People Who Wear Ed Hardy” from Stuff White People Like.) It is an unfortunate cross to bear since much of Hardy’s story details cross-cultural experiences that are unique and fascinating. After studying at the San Francisco Art Institute, Hardy fell in with other famous artists like “Sailor Jerry” Collins. Inspired by 19th-century Japanese printmaking, Hardy traveled to Japan in 1973 to become one of the first Western artists to study with Japanese masters. Hardy’s work changed from trite tattoos of anchors on rough-hewn sailors to the dramatic images of skulls, devils and samurai that worked their way into California biker culture and eventually onto rock stars and masters of industry. What limits Hardy’s memoir is his plainspoken, slow-but-sure storytelling. While the culture of tattoo art is clearly bold and sometimes risky, Hardy admits he would have become an academic if he hadn’t plied his trade in this different medium. A coda about Audigier admits Hardy’s inner conflict about the deal as he tells a friend, “This guy is at ground zero of everything that is wrong with contemporary culture,” before ultimately taking the deal. “I just wanted to get paid and to be left alone,” he says. Be careful what you wish for.

The lesson in this surprisingly heartfelt memoir by an iconic American tattoo artist is that the man is not always the brand.

Pub Date: June 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-00882-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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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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