One man’s appreciation for curious experiences, portrayed with self-effacing wit; best suited for fans of the author’s work.

THE GREAT NORTHERN EXPRESS

A WRITER'S JOURNEY HOME

An acclaimed novelist’s cross-country, “Great American Book Tour,” woven with quaint recollections of teaching in northern Vermont as well as enthusiasm for trout fishing.

Following radiation treatment for cancer, the then-65-year-old Mosher (Walking to Gatlinburg, 2010, etc.) embarked on a road trip inspired by a childhood promise that also coincided with the publication of a new novel. Forays in cities included stops at notable independent bookshops, from Prairie Lights to Powell’s; near-escapes with wildlife; anecdotal encounters with Oliver Sacks as well as Harry Potter fans; musings on landscapes; and conversations with locals characterized by humorous, occasionally larger-than-life traits. In three sections (“Faith,” “Hope” and “Love”), Mosher threads the uncertainty of his pre-novelist days with the foibles of now being an accomplished yet realistic, humble author. Rather than presenting a linear career story, he refreshingly alternates chapters between past and present. With equal aplomb, Mosher also looks back at challenges such as moving a piano, raucous motel patrons, rest-stop brawlers, limited audiences that included only the staff that organized the event and being mistaken for homeless. He also skillfully highlights memories that emphasize neighborly relationships. Chapters on Vermont are noteworthy for the recurrent theme of discovering simpler pleasures and searching for stories amid colorful lives. Fleeting conversations with imaginary characters may strike some readers as overly whimsical, and the digressive story about an inheritance is distracting. Still, Mosher provides a genial reminder that adventures are possible at any age.

One man’s appreciation for curious experiences, portrayed with self-effacing wit; best suited for fans of the author’s work.

Pub Date: March 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-45069-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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 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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