An uneven journey across the chartered waters of a romantic relationship.

THE MOTION OF THE OCEAN

1 SMALL BOAT, 2 AVERAGE LOVERS, AND A WOMAN’S SEARCH FOR THE MEANING OF WIFE

Travel and relationship memoir from Seattle Post-Intelligencer blogger Esarey.

After listening to Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Southern Cross” as a teenager, Esarey fell in love with the sea—but not the “literal, wet…get-a-degree-in-marine-biology sea…the lyrical sea…the transformative sea,” she writes. “To the extent that women-girls have pickup lines, ‘I’m going to sail around the world someday’ became mine. Boys eat that shit up.” As did Graeme, the college sweetheart she eventually married and convinced to accompany her on her ambitious voyage. Onboard the Dragonfly a fight presented the perfect opportunity to explore the ten hard years that separated the couple’s first meeting and this voyage, their honeymoon cruise. As their story unfolds chronologically in a series of small events, the author reflects on their time apart and ultimate reunion. But she glosses over many details, including what Graeme did for a living, and her tendency to substitute “blah blah blah” over dialogue, while occasionally humorous, may cause readers to question the focus of her attention. “The Green Box of Love” makes regular reference to the metaphoric significance of a gift box she’s brought on the journey, but the author never reveals the container’s actual contents. Throughout, the big question looms—can this couple make it? Fortunately, two years of cruising around the world offered a wealth of intriguing experiences, and Esarey ably brings to life remote isles and customs—particularly those in the South Pacific—most readers will never see. Her ruminations on these experiences, however, are mostly banal. Describing a beauty pageant for transgendered women in Samoa, she writes, “clapping wildly for those ballsy women carved out more space in my brain for words like beautiful and woman and normal.”

An uneven journey across the chartered waters of a romantic relationship.

Pub Date: June 2, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-8908-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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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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