An unabashed reminiscence that never fully coheres.


A familiar coming-of-age memoir about a young New Yorker who dreams of literary success.

“What a great, noble thing,” Tuten (Self-Portraits: Fictions, 2010, etc.) declares, “to give your life to art.” In short, nostalgic vignettes dating back as early as 1944, the author, a winner of the Award for Distinguished Writing from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, recounts two decades of maturation and intellectual posturing throughout his formative years in New York. Before becoming a novelist, screenwriter, and art critic, Tuten was determined in his youth to become “part of the world that [he] had read about in novels.” After a brief foray into painting, he was drawn to literature and so began the life of an aspiring writer. Although he never made it to la vie boheme in Paris, he repeatedly attempted to emulate a European lifestyle at home. He smoked “unfiltered Gauloises, like the French intellectuals,” and his vision of “the artist’s life” is one of “books, music, art, and a beautiful woman.” As he recalls, “I dreamed of instant fame, a book contract, and the waitress at Figaro noticing me.” Tuten pairs this relatable naiveté with too many tales of girlfriends and sexual exploits, but this is appropriate from an author who once considered Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer to be “a manifesto for my liberty.” The author’s intellectual ambitions, while compelling and at times inspirational, are not particularly unique. The memoir’s perfunctory finish reveals the lack of any substantive arc and suggests Tuten could have wandered through more memories if he had felt so inclined. The author’s life was unquestionably exciting—he published acclaimed novels, taught with Paul Bowles in Tangiers, worked on films, and befriended Roy Lichtenstein—but these stories are relegated to the occasional endnote, if addressed at all. Perhaps they are being saved for a more exciting follow-up.

An unabashed reminiscence that never fully coheres.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9445-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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 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...


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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