A family story unlike any other that unsparingly excavates the pain of small minds and inflexible traditions.

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THE HIDDEN HATRED

Dietch’s (Yaounde Univ./Private Law) novel explores the plight of an embittered African man whose parents commit suicide after discovering that four of their five children are gay.

Jean-Noel, the youngest son of five siblings, leaves his native African village to become a tour guide in order to escape the tragedy of his family. His three brothers left home to live in Europe, initially breaking the hearts of their parents, who are further shocked to learn that all three of them are gay. When it’s also revealed that their daughter is having an affair with a powerful woman, Jean-Noel’s parents kill themselves, as they’re unable to face the village’s condemnation. Jean-Noel blames his siblings’ sexual orientation on the global media, believing homosexuality to be an “imported” phenomenon. He attempts to start a family of his own only to discover that he’s infertile. When Rocky, a Los Angeles–based screenwriter, comes to the country for a vacation and enlists Jean-Noel’s services, the young African man is forced to confront his deepest rage: will he be able to move beyond the difficulties of his early years and lead a happy life, or will he take his anger toward the mainstream media out on Rocky? This book is a chronicle of deeply buried resentment and misunderstanding, unapologetic in its depiction of anti-gay sentiment and blind hate. Its numerous derogatory references to gays place the characters in a light that many readers will find solidly ignorant. However, Jean-Noel’s own struggles with infertility and his later role as a beloved “uncle” to another man’s triplets create a genuinely engaging dynamic and a compelling lead character. Why do people cling to hatred, the book seems to ask, when love often surrounds them in abundance? Dietch’s prose style is frequently cliché-ridden and clunky (“he bustled and bustled again, trying his utmost to reach his lover’s most inner genital cavity”), and the lack of more worldly, experienced viewpoint characters can make the principal players’ homophobia difficult to take. However, the novel’s exploration of small-town prejudice, along with its soap-opera–like structure of tragedy and ultimate redemption, is intriguingly original.

A family story unlike any other that unsparingly excavates the pain of small minds and inflexible traditions.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1496956064

Page Count: 216

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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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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