A humorous take on marriage and death, though honest introspection is often lost in the laughter.

LIFE IN A MARITAL INSTITUTION

TWENTY YEARS OF MONOGAMY IN ONE TERRIFYING MEMOIR

A comedic memoir of one man’s dual struggles to cope with a dying sister and a marriage in turmoil.

Adapted from his popular monologue of the same title, Braly’s debut balances perilously on the fine line between humor and heartbreak. Forced to face his sister Kate’s terminal breast cancer, Braly headed to Houston, where observing her demise prompted reflection on his own life. Though Kate had previously endured various bouts of cancer (so many, in fact, that Braly dubbed her “The Sister Who Cried Metastasized Breast Cancer Wolf”), it soon became evident that this particular cry was, in fact, Kate’s last. In an effort to squeeze out every last drop of joy available to her, Kate demanded a deathbed wedding, hauling her fiance and a preacher to her hospice room so she could die married to the man she loved. Juxtaposed alongside this grand gesture is Braly’s reflection on his own unconventional love story. As an undergraduate, his first interaction with his future wife, Jane, involved her snatching his recently composed poem and brashly correcting it—an act Braly called “the most irritating, irresistible thing a woman has ever done to me.” So begins a love story told warts and all, one in which family dysfunction takes second place behind only marital dysfunction. “I’ve been to thirteen marriage counselors,” Braly writes. “And the last twelve sounded a lot like the first one: I can’t help you; go home and get your affairs in order; your marriage is terminal.” Even as the author’s marriage unravels on the page, the jokes keep coming, his comedy routine leaving precious little time for grief.

A humorous take on marriage and death, though honest introspection is often lost in the laughter.

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-60728-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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