An inspirational, if slightly overlong, account of self-acceptance.

MY GAY CHURCH DAYS

MEMOIR OF A CLOSETED EVANGELICAL PASTOR WHO EVENTUALLY HAD ENOUGH

Azar recounts his journey as a closeted, gay Evangelical pastor in this debut memoir.

The author notes early on that he felt like an outsider in elementary school, as he was a “plump, Middle Eastern boy who loved the Spice Girls and Power Rangers.” He wasn’t yet conscious of the fact that he was gay, but bullies tormented him with homophobic taunts and slurs nonetheless, and Azar even took jabs at his own gay older brother. The author had grown up attending a liberal Episcopal church with an openly gay pastor, but Azar’s attitude toward his own sexual orientation drew him to conservative Evangelical Christianity as a teen. There, he found a community that accepted him while also condemning homosexuality, and he quickly began to rise through its ranks: “Where I once was the awkward, gay, fat kid in middle school and freshman in high school,” Azar recalls, “I was fast becoming the boisterous, intelligent, Republican Christian.” However, as he committed himself to his church—attending Bible college and eventually becoming an Evangelical pastor—the lie at the center of his life ultimately became too difficult for him to ignore. Over the course of this memoir, Azar’s prose is well crafted and deeply vulnerable. Even after he left the church, he says, he suffered from depression, night terrors, and panic attacks, and his discussions of the mental health effects of his self-denial are among the most moving sections of the book: “I’m about seven years removed from my faith, but the remnants of my past remain,” he writes in the introduction, adding that “to this day, I battle with the thoughts about myself that are flat-out lies: I’m a horrible sinner, and I was never worthy of true love.” At more than 350 pages, the book feels slightly too lengthy, and there are sections that could certainly have been removed, including a few chapters that read like homilies organized around specific topics. Even so, Azar’s struggles with fear and self-loathing make for an affecting work.

An inspirational, if slightly overlong, account of self-acceptance.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-578-91334-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Roman Matthews Publishing Company

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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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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