A polished and touching piece of work.



Tony Hendra’s daughter explains why she went public with the story of his incestuous sexual abuse.

Tony was one of the guiding lights of the National Lampoon during its glory days in the 1970s. In his bestselling memoir, Father Joe (2004), he wrote in very vague terms of his “misplaced sexual guilt.” Reading rave reviews that commended Tony for his supposed honesty, his daughter Jessica was shocked. At no point in the book, she saw, did he acknowledge the times that he forced her to commit incest. She decided to finally talk about her secret, in a public way that prompted an investigation by the New York Times. Her excellent memoir starts at this shocking moment, then winds back to tell the story of her life with Tony in a clipped, naturalistic voice. A British comedian who had once performed with John Cleese, Tony moved to L.A. to work in television, but never got a big break. Jessica was six years old in 1971 when the family relocated to New Jersey to further her father’s career. Not long after that, the first abuse happened, quickly followed by publication in the Lampoon of Tony’s disturbing and purportedly funny piece that gives Jessica’s memoir its title. (As depicted here, much of Tony’s “humorous” writing seems more like an attempt to rub people’s faces in his own emotional problems.) In gripping, straightforward prose, Jessica depicts her childhood among frenetically drug-fueled and rage-prone comics like John Belushi and Saturday Night Live writer Michael O’Donoghue. She lays out in an unadorned fashion her drift into self-hatred and anorexia, as well as Tony’s increasing megalomania, sexual obsessions and drug consumption. It’s hard not to see him as a monster—a label that Jessica assiduously avoids in her uncommonly fair and evenhanded memoir.

A polished and touching piece of work.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-082099-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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 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...


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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