A surprisingly hopeful meditation on why we shed tears.


An eclectic reflection on human waterworks.

Award-winning poet Christle (Creative Writing/Emory Univ. Heliopause, 2015, etc.) pushes the boundaries of her genre with this hybrid approach to tears. Fusing poetry with lyric essay and a significant amount of research, the author sheds new light on the basic, universal phenomenon of crying. Beyond fact—namely, that at one point or another, fluid has leaked from everyone’s eyes—some may wonder what more there is to know. This book provides the definitive answer: plenty. There are no chapters. Rather, in one long reflection, divided into small, partial-page sections, Christle examines such elements as pretend grief (she cites poet Chelsey Minnis, who calls it “cry-hustling”); “white tears,” (a Caucasian person’s response to suddenly realizing the enormity of systemic racism); and the differences between the three types of tears: basal (lubricant), irritant (a response to a foreign substance), and psychogenic (emotional). She also considers the distinction between crying and weeping—“crying is louder; weeping is wetter”—and introduces readers to professional mourners and lachrymatories, small vessels in which tears are stored. Of particular interest is Christle’s inquiry into the connections among grief, gender, and anger. She wonders “whether men kill to create an occasion for the grief they already feel.” The author infuses these tear-related themes with prose about her personal experiences, including her own treatment for depression and her staggering grief over a dear friend’s suicide. The format of the book lends itself to either quick consumption or measured contemplation; sections range from one sentence to a little more than a page. Though this structure could make for a choppy text, the transitions between her various sources and streams of thought are mostly seamless, providing a pleasurable, even restful reading experience. The narrative is saturated with significant threads of sadness, but they don’t overwhelm. Rather, the unconventional format, combined with the author’s vast survey of the topic, provides fascinating food for thought.

A surprisingly hopeful meditation on why we shed tears.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-948226-44-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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