Surprisingly dull for a book about a woman whose job it is to sell fantasies.

MADAM

A fictionalized account of the making of a madam, by the author of the memoir Callgirl (2004).

Peach, known in private life as Abby, was raised in Charleston, S.C., and came north to attend Emerson College. Strapped for money, she took a job working the phones in a brothel, learned the ropes, then headed out to run her own escort service. Few of her clients, or the callgirls she sends out to them, ever meet her. She does her work by telephone, and, though she prides herself on being supportive of the “girls,” insisting they call her once they arrive and as they are leaving (and immediately if they encounter any trouble), she still has little sense of their lives or even what they look like. Meanwhile, Peach is having her own torrid time with men like Jesse, a California stud who treats her badly, and Benjamin, a musician she takes home one night. He stays around and by the end becomes a stabilizing force in her life. Along the way, Peach describes clients like the man who orders a blowjob and a newspaper delivered to his hotel room, a sweet fellow whose wife has recently died of cancer, and the steady client who is demanding, pathetic and clings onto the dream that a girl will fall in love with him, even though he behaves like a boor. “Jeannette,” a callgirl who has quit, married and become a writer (i.e., the author) makes several cameo appearances. Despite Peach’s references to Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty and other writers, her own tale is pedestrian. At the end, when Peach has married Benjamin and has a five-year-old, she’s just another working mom, juggling too many details and worried about keeping her clients loyal. The client’s “real relationship is with me, and he knows it,” she confides. “I’m part Mother Confessor, part dominatrix.”

Surprisingly dull for a book about a woman whose job it is to sell fantasies.

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-57962-116-3

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2005

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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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