Tough, meditative, realist prose creates a worthy addition to the crowded field of (post-) addiction memoirs.

APOLOGY TO THE YOUNG ADDICT

A MEMOIR

A dark yet hope-infused look back at the long-term transformations fueled by an addict’s recovery.

In his previous memoirs—particularly The Los Angeles Diaries and This River—Brown focused on his bleak, destructive days as a substance abuser. While those experiences remain with him, he has been sober for years. While optimistic, he is still attuned to patterns of addiction surrounding him, and earlier experience with violence and desperation left him sensing the world’s fragility. The author explores these themes in terse, punchy pieces that often feel like an essay collection, but Brown’s passionate perspective provides a throughline. Much of the material is memorably well crafted, tight, and searing, including the title piece, which captures Brown’s guilt at learning of a former drug buddy’s son’s plunging down the same path: “What the older recovering addict has to offer the younger, active addict is the hope and promise of change through example and nothing more.” Brown explores the horrible juxtaposition of his reunion with his grown sons in Las Vegas and the Mandalay Bay mass shooting, and he weighs the gambling-addict shooter’s embrace of evil against the backdrop of the city’s ordinary temptations. Another striking piece utilizes second person to take readers through the excruciating days (and later triumphant weeks) of withdrawal. Brown’s personal history fuels the prose with compassion and near amazement at his own fortunate survival, and he builds a compelling universe of characters. The author details his engagement with 12-step programs and their simple, mysterious commitments, reflects on his experiences reaching out to hardened young prisoners in California prisons, and considers the guilt he still feels for plunging into addiction. “I spend a decade going in and out of the rooms of A.A.,” he writes, “along with an occasional stint in rehab, before I’m able to broach that ridiculous idea of God.”

Tough, meditative, realist prose creates a worthy addition to the crowded field of (post-) addiction memoirs.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64009-286-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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