Never preachy, though not always engaging—an earnest story of laughs and love.

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I'M NOT HIGH

(BUT I'VE GOT A LOT OF CRAZY STORIES ABOUT LIFE AS A GOAT BOY, A DAD, AND A SPIRITUAL WARRIOR)

Saturday Night Live alum Breuer chronicles a life in comedy and a life with God.

“All of my life,” writes the author in his first book, “humor had been a natural default operating mode for me,” and that God had given him the gift to make people laugh so that he might help and heal. His early years read like a stock bio for a comedian: making the neighborhood kids laugh growing up on Long Island, desultory attempts at college mixed with odd jobs, all the while struggling as a stand-up comedian, performing whenever and wherever he could. He had minor success on television with the show Uptown Comedy Club (which also featured Tracy Morgan) and was hired for a sitcom with the enigmatic Dave Chappelle and promptly fired. Then came SNL. Here the book starts to come alive as the author recounts his efforts to compete with a gifted and hungry cast. Breuer provides mostly generous portraits of his fellow cast members, and notes that he didn’t become a star on the show until he came up with an imitation of Joe Pesci as a talk-show host and developed the decidedly odd character of “Goat Boy.” One night, Chris Farley, guesting on the show at the height of his fame, called Breuer, asking sadly and pitifully, “Am I funny?...Am I just the fat, dumb guy?” Farley would soon be dead, and Breuer regretted not trying harder to save him. Other successes followed SNL, including a well-known role as a stoner in the Chappelle vehicle Half Baked (1998), but Breuer felt he should do more than just be funny. Conversations with Steve Harvey and, later, Bill Cosby—encounters he took as signs from God—convinced him that his family, everyday life and faith could be the stuff of comedy. At this point he became what he calls a “family” comedian. Breuer ends with the story of taking his 87-year-old father on the road with him, and the author’s meditations on how to properly treat and care for the elderly are telling and wise.

Never preachy, though not always engaging—an earnest story of laughs and love.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-592-40575-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gotham Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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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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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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