MY GORGEOUS LIFE

THE LIFE, THE LOVES, THE LEGEND

British comedy-star Everage, nÇe Barry Humphreys, takes us little people into her confidence with this terribly earnest autobiography of an Australian housewife turned megacelebrity— broad but successful buffoonery in the Monty Python tradition. Let's face it, Possums, not everyone is destined for megastardom—but Dame Everage makes if perfectly clear that the signs of greatness hung over her from birth. First, there was the mauve hair, which she modestly colored brown during her young- mother period in Moonee Ponds, the suburb of Melbourne where she grew up. Then there was the quick intelligence that made her captain of her class in school (``I'm sorry but I was''), and, of course, the ``spooky'' karma left over from her former lives as Joan of Arc, Mary Queen of Scots, Lady Macbeth, Florence Nightingale, and Ethel Merman—reincarnations that even the Dame's good friend Shirl is terribly jealous of. And of course the appearance of her stunning ``face furniture,'' the signature butterfly-shaped eyeglasses with the jumbo upsweeps at the corners, didn't hurt her determinedly cheerful image. As the good Dame breathlessly describes her marriage to dear Norman Stoddart Everage, a former department-store clerk destined for 24-hour prostate support; her struggle to find someone to raise her three children properly; her love-hate relationship with her envious bridesmaid and companion, Madge Allsop; and her first encounter with fame as winner of Australia's ``Lovely Mother Quest,'' it becomes clear that Everage's philosophy of simply getting up on a stage and giving her grateful audiences ``a gentle, blow-by-blow description of a housewife's life'' is the key to sold-out performances in London theaters and long, late-night phone conversations with her good friends Liz, Jackie, Marlon, Gore, et al. No Plom's (Poor Little Old Me) Disease here—though readers who haven't yet seen one of Edna's performances may be left a bit bewildered.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 1992

ISBN: 0-671-70976-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

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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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