A quirky, captivating biography.

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IN SEARCH OF AL HOWIE

An energetic work that chases the legend and captures the life story of premier Canadian extreme-distance runner Al Howie.

In an eccentric sport, Howie stood out. He would run hundreds or thousands of miles cross-country to the starting lines of multiday races—and then run to the next. Like a tour guide, Beasley (The Black Sheep, 2016) explores the cloistered world of extreme-distance running—involving races longer than standard 26.2-mile marathons—where Howie became an icon but never a household name. In 2014, the author found Howie, a silent shell of his former self, at a group home for the mentally ill. During the runner’s final two years, Beasley teased out recollections while tracking down documentary evidence and Howie’s friends and relatives, charting a path through memories and mythology. Howie, a native Scot, grew up in a hiking family and later enjoyed a hippie lifestyle before leaving his drug-addicted wife with their preschool-age son. He moved to Canada, where he was “on the run” long before his first race, which took place after he was 30. His stamina, flowing hair, and penchant for hydrating with beer defined him. In 1989, he became first to finish the 1,300-mile “Impossibility Race”—in 17 days, nine hours. In 1991, he ran 7,295 kilometers across Canada in 72 days, 10 hours—still the record—and two weeks later, broke his own 1,300-mile record. The book also reveals the relationships, personal demons, and twists of fate that shaped Howie, rendering the legend fully human—fearful and driven, flawed but likable. Beasley, an actor, director, and screenwriter, writes in a cinematic fashion, interspersing flashbacks between chapters with third-person snapshots of Howie’s signature trans-Canada run. He also seamlessly shifts focus from wide-angle settings to character close-ups, packs details into scenes without slowing the pace, and uses the colorful runners’ vernacular that christens a competitor a “manimal,” “alien,” or “freak.” Some may find the style hyperbolic, but they’d likely concede that if the author described a smoke-filled bar, they’d smell it. He achieves a fluid narrative that makes the pages fly by, like the miles beneath Howie’s feet.

A quirky, captivating biography.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77160-338-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Rocky Mountain Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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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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