A finely written, painful, but profound book.

LUCKY JIM

A former business executive tells the moving story of his rise from poverty to privilege and the secrets that haunted—and almost destroyed—his life.

Hart (Milding, 2004) met future wife Carly Simon on a chance train ride to New York City. He had not known who Simon was, only that he was profoundly attracted to her. A former seminarian, the author was a divorced insurance salesman and sober alcoholic with a mentally challenged son. His early life had been marred by the alcoholism and violence of a father whose “rages were as unpredictable as the Atlantic,” and Catholicism had been his refuge. Simon, by contrast, lived a glamorous life as a famous recording artist who had been married to singer James Taylor and romanced by countless other stars, as well as the daughter of Simon & Schuster co-founder Richard Simon. Despite their differences and the fact that the author, who bore a striking resemblance to Taylor, sometimes felt like a replacement for him, they married six months after they met. For Hart, the main challenge was acclimating to privilege and his sudden acquisition of the financial and emotional support he needed to pursue his dream of writing a novel. He soon discovered that his underlying attraction to men was also an issue, but one he could not face. Painful fissures appeared in his marriage to Simon and in his life; prescription painkillers, hookups with gay men, and crack cocaine became his modes of escape. Two decades after it began, his marriage ended, and he was forced to confront three painful truths: that he was an addict and homosexual who had failed the son he could not bring himself to love. In this searching, honest, and emotionally nuanced narrative, Hart navigates the struggle with his personal demons and the celebrity world with which he unexpectedly became enmeshed with elegance, grit, and artistry. The result is memoir that makes for exceptionally poignant, lyrical reading.

A finely written, painful, but profound book.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62778-214-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Cleis

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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