Raw, compelling, and darkly lyrical.



A British journalist and critic tells the story of a working-class adolescence overshadowed by traumatic experiences with sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher.

The son of northern English Catholic parents, Caveney (Screaming with Joy: The Life of Allen Ginsberg, 1999, etc.) was a “devout child” who didn’t know he was working-class until he was in grammar school and “met people who weren’t.” He worked through his feelings of rejection and made friends with fellow outsiders. Together, they bonded over the music of Patti Smith, the Pretenders, and Joy Division while Caveney found personal solace in the novels of Kafka. As he grew up and became more critical of his world, he began to hate the “parochiality [and]…lack of imagination” that characterized the people around him. His life changed drastically after he met “Rev. Kev,” the rebel English teacher at his Catholic high school who “smoked ‘pot’…[and] was into Stevie Wonder.” Drawn to Rev. Kev’s culture and intelligence, Caveney regularly chatted with his teacher about books, ideas, and his hatred of the “small-souled petty-minded white working class.” Their conversations led to a night out to the theater, which ended with the Rev. Kev’s forcing himself on Caveney before taking him home. Unwilling to speak of that episode and of many similar ones that followed, the author kept the molestation a secret from his parents. The author ultimately broke free of his teacher’s influence; but the helplessness and rage simmering just below the surface impacted almost every subsequent personal relationship he had. Even more devastatingly, it pushed the adult Caveney into “psych wards, rehabs, [and] therapists’ offices” to find answers for the anguish that continued to torment him long after he left home. Despite its dark subject matter, the book is neither hopeless nor despairing thanks in large part to the author’s mordant wit. Caveney seeks to understand pain and find redemption through the very act of surviving.

Raw, compelling, and darkly lyrical.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6596-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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 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...


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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