A captivating recollection that’s filled with novelistic drama.

SELFIE SIDEWAYS

In this memoir, the last in a trilogy, a woman escapes war-torn Europe and begins a new life, filled with books and romance, in the United States.

Zebroski (Mephisto Waltz, 2014, etc.) was born in 1934 in Latvia. Her family had already known great adversity: Her maternal grandparents, Baltic Germans, had fled Russia when the revolution broke out there in 1917. When World War II erupted, her family was yet again threatened by Soviet invasion, so they fled to Germany and then to Austria, narrowly missing the infamous bombing of Dresden. The author’s father eventually had no choice but to enlist—deserters would be executed—and as a result, he was later fatally wounded in the Battle of Berlin in 1945. Until she was able to make her way to the United States in 1954, the author often contended with straitened circumstances: hiding out in bomb shelters, deprived of proper nourishment and medical attention, and separated from her mother for stretches of time. Much of this memoir is devoted to her eventful romantic pursuits later on, especially after she came to America: Her first husband, Kurt, was obsessed with sex, she writes; her second husband, Alain Genko, who took her to live in France, suffocated her with his jealousy, she says. Finally, while working for General Electric, she met Edwin Zebroski, a talented research scientist, to whom she would be married for more than 40 years. She enjoyed a surfeit of romances along the way, the most memorable being Oscar, a man she met in Los Angeles, with whom she fell rapturously in love and would remain so. The author also doggedly pursued her education, eventually studying English and child psychology at San José State University and later successfully realizing her dream of becoming a published author. Zebroski’s story is deeply inspirational—once a starving refugee, she finally got a university degree and later became a successful real estate investor and writer, ending her family’s tortured legacy of imperilment. She writes with startling, confessional candor throughout, and she’s unafraid to forthrightly discuss her missteps as well as her accomplishments. The prose is unfailingly clear, and it affectingly depicts her desire to make a permanent home in the United States instead of succumbing to a fugitive mentality. “The journey of sorting out my memories gave me purpose,” she writes. “Yes, I can do it. Find my place in the world I had chosen to live in and was fortunate to get to.” At the heart of this gripping remembrance is the author’s sense of romanticism, which is expressed in her pursuit of both men and education, and it’s indicative of a remarkable will to avoid becoming cynical, which any reader might reasonably expect. She also furnishes a perspicacious commentary on the tumultuous cultural upheavals of the 1960s and ’70s, discussing such topics as the Vietnam War, the rise of the counterculture, the promiscuous use of drugs among her youthful contemporaries, and the sexual revolution.

A captivating recollection that’s filled with novelistic drama.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-978241-48-0

Page Count: 470

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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