After initially disdaining a career in food as one devoid of “meaning and purpose,” she finds both here.

BLOOD, BONES, AND BUTTER

THE INADVERTENT EDUCATION OF A RELUCTANT CHEF

In this provocative debut, a renowned chef finds her fulfillment as a writer.

Though a passion for food provides Hamilton’s theme and focus, her passion for writing distinguishes this memoir from similar behind-the-kitchen volumes. In fact, her accomplishment as the owner and chef of Prune, in New York City, seems less like destiny than the result of a series of detours, from the broken family that left her to support herself with a series of food jobs since her early teens, when petty crime and casual drugs also marked her life, through her on-again/off-again college studies that culminated in an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Michigan. “I was not looking to open a restaurant,” she writes of the quixotic leap she made into the profession—despite never having worked as a chef, written a business plan or had any idea of the legal processes involved in converting an abandoned space into a tiny bistro that would quickly come to gross almost $2 million a year. While the centerpiece of the book is an amazing chapter that finds the foundation of Prune—its spirit of hospitality—in her experiences as an impoverished international vagabond, the restaurant provides only one dimension of the narrative’s richness. In a manner that is never glib or sentimental, Hamilton proceeds from the childhood innocence of her family’s unraveling through the life of a precocious hustler for whom introspection was a luxury through the romantic complications of leaving her longtime female lover for the Italian man she would marry. This union that would provide her with something like the family she had lost decades earlier, but a marriage that would prove both turbulent and unconventional (the couple had two children in their first seven years of marriage without living together).

After initially disdaining a career in food as one devoid of “meaning and purpose,” she finds both here.

Pub Date: March 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6872-2

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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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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