A crisp, well-rounded portrait of a family that’s short on excitement.



Reed’s debut memoir recalls growing up in Colorado during the mid-20th century, as portrayed in an intimate chronicle of everyday moments and small details of family life.

Reed’s childhood is set against a rich natural landscape full of bright descriptions of farm life—sunlight, fresh eggs, garden herbs and shady trees. The magnificence of these concrete details, evoked through sharp description as well as black and white photographs, creates an intimately visual effect. Through a child’s eye, Reed paints acute portraits of her mother and relatives, zooming in on the wrinkles of their brows and the undertones of their gently pursed lips. Her account is as much focused on the human interior as it is on landscape and exteriors. Although the book contains a few moments of conflict or discomfort—passive-aggressive battles between the female members of the family, for instance—these moments aren’t necessarily the ones that will pull readers into the story. Furthermore, Reed’s descriptions of her father seem one-sided compared to those of her mother, grandmother and other female relatives. In one scene, the father is asked to spank the girls; upon entering the bedroom, he instead makes them laugh, insisting that he’d rather see them laughing than crying. With such prismatic views of her female characters and their motivations, readers may wonder why the father was spared such analysis. Each chapter falls heavily into description, with little time spent building tension or meaningful conflict; therefore, readers may often feel like museum attendees viewing life behind glass. The telling remains somewhat docile, which could be a compelling feature for readers looking for a dollhouse glimpse into a time and place, rather than a story of conflicting desires or struggles.

A crisp, well-rounded portrait of a family that’s short on excitement.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-1449720995

Page Count: 180

Publisher: WestBow/Thomas Nelson

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2012

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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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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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