Bell often succeeds in freezing time, permitting us glimpses of one of the multiple Dylans creating art in one of his...

TIME OUT OF MIND

THE LIVES OF BOB DYLAN

The second volume of the Scottish journalist’s massive life of the astonishing performer and songwriter who, though now 73, continues to puzzle, amaze and perturb in equal measure.

Few celebrities in any era have held the limelight for so long as Dylan—or endured the indignities of the endless Google searches for the antecedents of his lyrics. Recognizing he has a virtually impossible task, Bell (Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan, 2013, etc.) chooses his focuses carefully. He writes in great detail about Dylan’s music, his touring (not all of it—that would be impossible), his evolving multiple selves and his ability to do just about exactly what he wants to all the time. This means that he has been able to make movies (usually bad), have exhibits of his artwork, play anywhere he wants to with whomever he wants (from the Grateful Dead to Paul Simon), say what he wants, have a satellite radio show (which the author praises), fail to show up for awards, sell underwear and present enough contradictory faces to the world to make Janus blush. The author is hard on just about all of Dylan’s critics (Greil Marcus, for example), except, of course, himself and novelist Jonathan Lethem, whose Rolling Stone interview with Dylan the author quotes favorably. Bell assails those who accuse Dylan of plagiarism, arguing several times that Dylan may borrow, but he also has to craft it all into art. (He does back off on a set of paintings that Dylan patently copied.) Bell writes little about Dylan’s love life and children, saying nothing at all, for example, about son Jakob’s double Grammys in 1997. The author excels at rumination, which he does on nearly every page.

Bell often succeeds in freezing time, permitting us glimpses of one of the multiple Dylans creating art in one of his multiverses.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60598-628-9

Page Count: 574

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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