While this reads like a memoir, a faint suspicion lingers that it could be fiction, like the author’s previous work (The...

CALLGIRL

Engrossing, no-holds-barred story of a college lecturer by day and a callgirl by night.

When a live-in boyfriend (known here only as Peter the Rat Bastard) moved out in the mid-1990s and took the contents of their joint checking account with him, the author was strapped for cash. To supplement her small income as an adjunct sociology lecturer at a Boston-area college, she contacted the owner of an escort service whose ad had caught her attention. As a callgirl—in her view, “a skilled professional possessing an area of knowledge for which there is a demand”—she could net $140 an hour plus tips and keep her respectable day job. Angell signed on and found that her clients were ordinary guys, much like the men she had dated. Her blow-by-blow accounts of her encounters range from sexless eating bouts with a restaurant owner to an evening with a man who just wanted to wear her undergarments to “doubles” sessions with a client and a second callgirl. It’s not all action, however; the author gives ample space to her thoughts about sex and prostitution. Besides the close-ups of the clients and their quirks, she paints deft profiles of the escort-service owner, known here as Peach, and of a cocaine-addicted co-worker. Angell brought the two sides of her life together in a course on the history and sociology of prostitution that led to some academic recognition and a heavier teaching load. Eventually, aware that her classroom work was deteriorating and that she wasn’t getting any younger (she was in her mid-30s), she decided to quit her night job, pushed over the edge by a frightening brush with the law.

While this reads like a memoir, a faint suspicion lingers that it could be fiction, like the author’s previous work (The Illusionist, 2000, etc.). Either way, it provides a revelatory view of a life few women know much about.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-57962-110-4

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2004

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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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