Deftly written, with a tonal command that complements a child’s observations with an adult’s insights.

RERUN ERA

An elliptical and elusive memoir that skips back and forth across time and circles back on itself as the author comes to terms with events and circumstances in a way that she couldn’t comprehend as a young child.

“I am five,” writes Howard (Literature/Denver Univ.; Foreign Correspondent, 2013, etc.), of a time when her father’s health and her family both seemed to be falling apart. “It’s probably only a few months or slightly more. Any time is a very long time, and all that time is time in the memory of an unformed mind. Be careful, my therapist reminds me, now, in these much later days: those may be screen memories…the memories that we put in place to protect us from worse memories.” This is one of the rare intrusions of the author’s adulthood on her impressions as a child, when coming-of-age in hardscrabble Oklahoma didn’t seem as toxic as she would later realize it was, when her parents’ marriage wasn’t as unstable as it would soon prove to be, and when TV reruns, turning time into something of a jigsaw puzzle, seemed as real as whatever she was experiencing in her so-called real life. Actors on TV (including musician Jerry Reed) become more vivid characters in her memory—and her memoir—than the members of her family. Over the course of this brief memoir, everything changes, primarily because of the stroke suffered by Howard’s father, who had been in the process of leaving her mother and moving in with his girlfriend, starting a new life. That new life proved stillborn, though the tension between mother and girlfriend intensified as the stroke and subsequent surgeries left her father “a patchwork doll.” Instead, the author is the one who found new life. She is the one who got away, the one that those left behind resent because she escaped “this hell hole.”

Deftly written, with a tonal command that complements a child’s observations with an adult’s insights.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-944211-67-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: McSweeney’s

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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