The perfect summer read about an exceptional summer destination.

FRANKIE’S PLACE

A LOVE STORY

Journalist Sterba (Wall Street Journal) glowingly recalls Mount Desert, a Maine island where he and his wife, writer Frances FitzGerald, spend their summers.

The cabin, surrounded by cedars, spruce, and pine trees, overlooks a fjord; an alternate view features seabirds and lobster-trap buoys. It’s full of books (as befits two authors) and also contains a fireplace made from local granite and a life-size golden Buddha from Vietnam. Sterba came to the island in 1983 as FitzGerald’s weekend guest. The “entertainment”—better known as the FitzGerald Survival School—included jumps into the ocean’s icy waters and “walks up and down mountains that would have been called forced marches in many of the world’s armies.” But he survived and was invited for another weekend that fall; the next summer FitzGerald invited him for a week. They began seeing each another in New York and eventually married. Although the story takes place over one summer, each chapter includes delightful tangents: Sterba’s early years as a cub reporter with the New York Times, the art of mushrooming, the history of the island and its occupants. The author reminisces about the island’s chief librarian and part-time police officer, probably the only person in the area “with a working knowledge of both the Dewey decimal system and the police response code.” We also meet the poem-writing editor of the local paper (“Why doesn’t the woodpecker / Rattle his brains / When he hammers a tree / Or the windowpanes?”) and a freelance author with a secret past. (He starred in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.) During the warm summer days, Sterba listens to marine radio (tracking rescue operations), the weather report, and the musings of lonely fishermen. Friends come to visit and are fed; recipes are recorded. The author’s prose is lovely, his self-deprecating humor endearing. Eventually, the summer and the book wind to a close: back to the real world, but not without a sigh of satisfaction.

The perfect summer read about an exceptional summer destination.

Pub Date: July 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-8021-1747-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more