TAKE IT LYING DOWN

FINDING MY FEET AFTER A SPINAL CORD INJURY

“Being paralyzed was a fact I couldn’t deny but didn’t let my mind admit.” A powerful exploration of navigating physical disability.

In this lyrical account, Linnell (Emeritus, Theatre and Dance/Univ. of New Mexico; Walking on Fire: The Shaping Force of Emotion in Writing Drama, 2011) examines the seemingly mundane accident that rendered him a quadriplegic at age 70—and the aftermath of coping and rehabilitation. The author opens with a family vacation in remote Baja, Mexico, in 2012, when he was in his final year as a professor. Stepping off a porch at their rental house, he fell down and destroyed his body. Drama builds early as the family tries to locate an ambulance, arranges an airlift to Albuquerque, and then maneuvers him to a spinal cord rehabilitation center in Denver. The positioning of the broken bones meant that he would likely remain a quadriplegic. However, Linnell also learned that he had an approximate two-year window during which he might regain some of his mobility. Any reader who has experienced protracted therapy for a paralyzing injury, or has watched somebody else experience such an ordeal, will recognize the universality of Linnell’s saga even if the particulars differ. Understandably alternating among determination, hopelessness, optimism, and depression, the author rejects the label of courageous. The real heroes, he writes, are his wife and the doctors and therapists who assisted him. Every chapter is filled with memorable analogies and metaphors, making Linnell’s journey to partial recovery a pleasurable intellectual experience for readers despite the horrors, fears, and winding mental path through rehab. “I fear I will be cut loose,” he writes. “This fear grows from a train of thought that says accident is punishment. I will be discarded; every face will greet me with a dismissive pity.” Because the author was able to visit with other patients in the rehab division, readers will also learn about the variations in spinal cord trauma. Following his departure from the hospital, the narrative focus shifts toward his wife, who battled the daily challenges of helping him at home.

A stunning account.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58988-135-8

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Paul Dry Books

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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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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