Dyer writes two books at once, his own life and a challenging life of D.H. Lawrence, in this unique performance. This wrestling match with Lawrence reveals the author and his subject as finely matched opponents who ultimately shake hands on the nature of life and art. Dyer's record of his time spent exhaustively studying Lawrence is both tormented and comic. He ``rages'' at his very goals and against the compulsion to write, while also tracing, intermittently, Lawrence's own life's itinerary. In a sense, the project is a doomed undertaking. For could there be any less auspicious literary pursuit than formalizing the process of going ``from making notes on Lawrence to making notes for my novel, by which I mean not working on my book about Lawrence to not working on the novel because all of the to-ing and fro-ing and note-taking actually meant that I never did any work on either . . .''? Chagrined by his ambivalence, seduced by his indecisiveness, Dyer aspires to the ``floaty indifference of contentment'' and comes to prefer Lawrence's manuscripts to the final texts. He longs for freedom, yet his gateway into Lawrence comes in a moment of raging indolence. Convinced that Lawrence's ``writing urges us back to the source,'' Dyer traces the other writer's footsteps. Taos and Oaxaca, Sardinia and Eastwood are important backdrops along the way. Such scenery lures Dyer into a dialogue with Lawrence's mentors and tormentors and into the heat and chill of the arguments they waged. Larkin, Brodsky, and Julian Barnes are poetic referees in the ring. The push-me-pull-me here of the text and the sub-text, of biography and autobiography, turns up the volume on this fascinating symbiosis, which casts a new light on creativity and the importance of destiny.

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-86547-533-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: North Point/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1998

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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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