What begins as a straightforward chronicle of a not-entirely-unusual midlife quest evolves into an examination of midlife...

LATE TO THE BALL

AGE. LEARN. FIGHT. LOVE. PLAY TENNIS. WIN.

A career editor and writer takes up tennis at age 60—not as a hobby, but competitively.

One of the benefits of advancements in medicine and the lengthening of the human life span is the range of options open to people in the second part of their lives. Increased physical and mental health make all sorts of pursuits possible that would have one day seemed ludicrous—within limits, of course. Where those limits are, however, continues to shift. Marzorati (A Painter of Darkness: Leon Golub and Our Times, 1990) spent nearly his entire working career as a writer and editor, culminating with editorial oversight of the New York Times Magazine from 2003 to 2010, a job that demanded attention and rigorous oversight of the minute details of words and letters. The author decided to apply this level of discipline and exactitude to tennis—but not simply to play the game. Marzorati had a loftier goal: to be competitive despite his age and despite his need to learn the game from the ground up. The author draws many neat and insightful parallels between his career and his new pursuit, including the mix of solitude and competition and of pushing oneself in honing the necessary skills. The adage involving an old dog and new tricks doesn't hold up as well as one might think; studies have shown that task analysis—breaking down tasks into smaller components—can enable learning at any age. That isn’t to say it’s ever easy, and Marzorati put in the work, seeking counsel from trainers and others. Ultimately, his physical self-challenge grew into a larger questioning of the assumptions—both positive and negative—that he has about himself.

What begins as a straightforward chronicle of a not-entirely-unusual midlife quest evolves into an examination of midlife reinvention in general, both the how and the why.

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3739-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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