PAST FORGETTING

A misty memoir of amnesia triggered by a swimming pool accident, and the slow, painful retrieval of memory. The swimming-pool episode was apparently caused by an epileptic seizure, and Robinson was to learn that she had suffered from undiagnosed epilepsy since she was a child. The daughter of writer/movie mogul Dore Schary, she grew up in southern California, where her schoolmates and playmates were the likes of Robert Redford. A career as a relatively successful novelist (Star Country, 1996, etc.) included two husbands and two children before she settled in London with her third spouse, the extaordinarily patient and understanding hero of this work. When Robinson wakes from a brief coma following the accident, she doesn—t know him. Although she accepts his and others’ word that this man is her husband, it’s apparently years before she is able to collate the memories of their mutual history. The Hollywood years are most vivid to the starstruck Robinson, and within the first 20 pages, there is mention of Dennis Hopper, Jane Fonda, and Cary Grant, with Barbra Streisand (a good friend), Erica Jong, Betty Friedan, Helen Gurley Brown, and others. Most interesting are descriptions of Robinson’s efforts to restore her memory, including reading her husband’s detailed journals of their years together and rereading her own books. She also keeps careful notes of day-to-day encounters, because she often cannot recall from one room to the next where she is or why she is there. She continues to write and never loses her ability to cook or her taste for clothes. A new doctor and new medication to control the seizures assist in her recovery. An intriguing but confusing view from inside the author’s head that would be considerably improved by observations from the likes of Barbra and Erica about their now-forgetful friend.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-019430-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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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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