ONE WRITER'S BEGINNINGS

Delivered as three talks (April 1983) in Harvard's William E. Massey Sr. Lecture series: a Welty childhood memoir, emphasizing the memories and habits that later helped young Eudora become a writer. The first section centers on listening, on reading and secrets and curiosity—as Welty recalls the voracious reading, the expressive reading-aloud of her mother: "She read Dickens in the spirit in which she would have eloped with him. . . . When she was reading 'Puss in Boots'. . . it was impossible not to know that she distrusted all cats." (So, when Welty writes her stories, she hears every line in an inward voice, a voice that "I have always trusted. . . .") She also remembers the secret pleasures of curiosity and suspense, the cornerstones of the Bible and Jackson's Carnegie Library—where Mrs. Welty said to the forbidding librarian: "Eudora is nine years old and has my permission to read any book she wants from the shelves, children or adult. . . . With the exception of Elsie Dinsmore." Then, in a section called "Learning to See," Welty tells of summer trips to grandparents in West Virginia and Ohio—feeling independence take possession of her on an ancestral mountain-top, feeling the trips themselves as stories ("not only in form, but in their taking on direction, movement, development, change"). And the third section, "Finding a Voice," takes Welty into the outside world: discovering S. J. Perelman at college; writing and taking photos as a WPA publicity agent ("I learned in the doing how ready I had to be. . . . Life doesn't hold still"); encountering mortality; and finding her kind of fiction, her voice, especially in the making of Miss Eckart ("out of my most inward and most deeply feeling self") in "June Recital." Less shapely or focused than Welty's stories, and a little too wispy in its self-portrait—but a welcome, often-eloquent arrival nonetheless, for Welty readers and writing-students in about equal measure.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1983

ISBN: 0674639278

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1983

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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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