A hard-luck tale that never asks for pity.

GRACE AFTER MIDNIGHT

A MEMOIR

Pearson’s memoir is even more horrifying than the cold-blooded killer she portrays on The Wire.

Born a cross-eyed crack baby in East Baltimore, the author was soon in foster care. Her mother paid infrequent visits (locking her in a closet and selling her clothes to buy crack during one of them) and then stopped coming altogether. Her doting and religious foster parents did their best, but their neighborhood was riddled with drug dealers, and Pearson, an industrious but fidgety tomboy, couldn’t resist the siren call of the streets. She witnessed her first murder in sixth grade and soon acquired the moniker “Snoop,” a personal arsenal and a rep for being dead-eyed crazy. At 15, she fatally shot a woman who came after her with a bat; she got a relative break with a sentence of only five years. In prison, Pearson got her GED and stayed out of trouble. She even had a moment of revelation when the workings of the universe were at least briefly made clear. Her loving relationship (of a sort) with a prison guard provides one of the narrative’s less-expected moments, and the subject of Pearson’s homosexuality is handled with surprisingly unconventional directness. With the help of veteran co-author David Ritz (Faith in Time: The Life of Jimmy Scott, 2002, etc.), she tells her story in prose that has the same laconic, hypnotic clarity with which she delivers her lines on The Wire. Having been dealt such a raw hand by life, Pearson’s happenstance discovery in a bar by an actor on the show makes a welcome end to this captivating, brutally honest tale of a life that came perilously close to being a complete waste.

A hard-luck tale that never asks for pity.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-446-19518-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2007

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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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