An engaging memoir that will inevitably make readers long for a more equal future.

BOY ERASED

A MEMOIR

In a sharp and shocking debut memoir, Conley digs deep into the ex-gay therapy system.

When the author’s parents found out he might be gay, his hometown in Arkansas started to close in on him. The community he grew up in looked at him twice, his principles were blurred by constant self-doubt, and those he once considered friends became distant memories. As people of faith, his parents sent him to Love in Action, a Christian ministry devoted to “curing” those filled with “sin.” “According to the scripture,” writes Conley, “I was no better than a pedophile, or an idol worshiper, or a murderer.” While attending LIA, the author met others struggling with alcoholism, homosexuality, and suicidal ideation, and he was told repeatedly that his inner life was wrong. It needed to be changed for the sake of a higher being Conley wasn’t sure existed anymore. During college, writes the author, the liberal teachings he received constantly clashed with everything he learned growing up. “Sitting there in the midst of my professors’ intelligent conversations, I had felt like both an impostor and a traitor,” he writes. “I smiled at the appropriate moments, made droll comments about my upbringing, mocked the politics of almost everyone in my hometown. Yet it was also true that coming home often made me feel, if not proud of my heritage, then at least grateful for its familiarity.” Those moments of disjunction are unfortunately not frequent in the book though they are absolutely vital to this framework. Readers follow Conley through a very difficult process of self-identification that sheds light on the degrees of intolerance that are still present in today’s world. At times, the text feels a bit passive; some readers may expect more blatant outrage. Nevertheless, Conley has chosen to expose ex-gay therapy as abusive, and that is important.

An engaging memoir that will inevitably make readers long for a more equal future.

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59463-301-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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