A broad examination of life, philosophy, and Christianity that still manages to feel personal and powerfully intimate.

Ripeness Is All

A BOOMER'S MIRTHFUL SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

Carrier’s memoir doubles as a treatise that carefully examines life and the Christian faith.

Carrier’s work is roughly broken into three movements: autobiography, ideas and concepts, and a declaration of faith. Throughout all three, he strikes a tone balanced between casual conversation and rigorous lecture—unsurprising given his many degrees, long tenure as a professor, and zany humor. He looks back at his younger self with a careful, analytical eye. As he goes from unwanted stepchild in a mansion to football star in a small Mississippi town at the beginning of the 1960s, his insightful observations reveal the moments that shaped him: for instance, his concern for a beagle above all else or the realization that a black maid was both “invisible and indispensable.” His tumultuous young adulthood as well as transformative religious experiences set the stage for the second section, which moves with a remarkable pace through many major events and changes of late-20th-century America. Intellectual movements, scientific discoveries, and pop culture all play into the notion of zeitgeist, what he calls “The Culture.” He relates all of it back to his own faith, working from a central argument that modern Christianity ought to abandon certain practices and more openly connect with the contemporary secular world. At times, the book’s audacious scope is overwhelming. However, just when readers start to feel lost in a bombardment of references or an especially dense assertion, Carrier’s own life interjects. Bracketed sections break away from the topic at hand to update the reader on his autistic brother, Michael, who was dying of cancer as Carrier was writing. These digressions make the work feel like a naturally unfolding narrative as Carrier moves from tangent to tangent while being interrupted by the unstoppable forces of life.

A broad examination of life, philosophy, and Christianity that still manages to feel personal and powerfully intimate.

Pub Date: April 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63417-798-6

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Page Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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