There’s metaphysical mystery at the heart of this short journal, followed by a facsimile of her handwritten notebook, as...

A PRAYER JOURNAL

A devotional journal from the author’s student days finds her grappling with issues of Christian spirituality that would soon inform her fiction.

The renowned Southern novelist plainly experienced a profound sense of displacement when she moved from her native Savannah to the University of Iowa. She began as a journalism major but switched to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, all the while trying to understand and deepen her faith amid “all sorts of intellectual quackery.” O’Connor began the journal (which is missing its first few pages) in 1946 and ended it abruptly a year and a half later. During that period, she also began writing what would be her first published fiction. Among the concerns she agonized over were commercialism, egoism and her insistence on her own mediocrity. Of her inspiration, she writes that God has “given me a story. Don’t let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story.” The author asks for grace and to become a great writer—not for her own acclaim, but as a testament to her faith. Most of all, she asks to know God with an almost erotic ardor: “Dear Lord, please make me want You. It would be the greatest bliss. Not just to want You when I think about You but to want You all the time, to have the want driving in me, to have it like a cancer in me. It would kill me like a cancer and that would be the Fulfillment.” Yet just three days later, she ends the journal with a short entry that begins, “My thoughts are so far away from God. He might as well not have made me.” It ends, “There is nothing left to say of me.”

There’s metaphysical mystery at the heart of this short journal, followed by a facsimile of her handwritten notebook, as well as the seeds of the spiritual life force that coursed through her fiction.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-23691-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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