An intelligent and bracing memoir.

KOOKOOLAND

An independent film producer’s story of how she grew up dominated by her charismatic, troubled father but managed to break free of his influence.

Norris' hard-living Greek-American father, Jimmy, was larger than life. A fisherman, hunter, and racetrack gambler fascinated by violence, he often took the family to see slasher movies at the local drive-in. There, he playfully scared his daughter by transforming his hand into what she called “the Hairy Claw.” But Norris knew better. “I had seen that hand rip out the still-warm guts of dead animals ten times my size,” writes the author. Jimmy often humiliated Norris, her mother, and sister with his misogynistic comments and behavior, but the author loved her father and identified with him to the point where her colorful, slangy English was virtually indistinguishable from what Jimmy used. At the same time, she also found herself longing to be like her friend Susan, a beautiful and talented rich girl who was “really going places” and whom even Jimmy could not fault. Then Susan’s father murdered her mother, and her mother’s lover and Susan descended into personal chaos. At the same time, the Norris household began to unravel as Jimmy became more erratic and eventually threatened to kill his own long-suffering wife. The author escaped by becoming the only member of her working-class family to go to college, where she immersed herself in the filmmaking that became her life's work. Away from her home and the father who terrorized it, Norris finally began the slow process of learning how to remove the words that her father put into her mouth “like a ventriloquist.” By turns heartbreaking and darkly humorous, the book not only offers a compelling yet comic portrayal of a fraught father-daughter relationship. Norris also reveals the way violence can become a self-replicating cancer within families.

An intelligent and bracing memoir.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-941393-60-4

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Regan Arts

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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