PICASSO AND DORA

A MEMOIR

An intricate and intimate view of Picasso's aloof mistress and model Dora Maar, by onetime-companion Lord (Giacometti, 1985, etc.). An American soldier in Paris in 1944, Lord seeks out Picasso and requests that the artist draw his portrait. Picasso takes Lord to lunch with Maar—the first encounter in what evolves into the author's infatuation with the muse. Maar and her role in Picasso's genius fascinate Lord, who toys with the idea of himself being a ``figment'' of Picasso's ``creative imagination.'' From the fall of 1953 into the spring of 1954, when Maar is 46 and Lord 31, the two have dinner almost every night and spend weeks together away from Paris. Lord claims constant enchantment: ``being with Dora...was the be-all and end-all of thinking as well as of feeling.'' And later: ``I never ceased to be under the spell of her beauty, the lambent gleam of her gaze, the bird-of-paradise voice...all the aura of tense serenity and power and pathos so poignantly portrayed by Picasso.'' Yet the pair's bond is defined by Lord's homosexuality (``seeking promiscuous oblivion in the embraces of boys''). At night, Maar and Lord separate with a ritual kiss, the writer constantly pondering the model's expectations. Lord's narrative, based on a journal, contains countless backstage details—from Picasso's insults at a party given by the collector Douglas Cooper to Dora's attachment to a cigarette lighter that had ``cost'' the artist ``a visit to the Place Vendome.'' But of deeper interest than these anecdotes is a long, climactic letter in which Lord finally denounces his and Maar's unequal roles and the pride, selfishness, and avarice that, he says, isolate Maar—who still lives in Paris, in the same apartment where they so often sat. An account memorable in its frankness about a ``friendship'' that was extraordinary but flawed—not least because of the friends' shared obsession with ``the monarch of twentieth-century art.'' (Illustrations—not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-374-23208-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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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