Told in a conversational style both luscious and luxuriant, this is exquisite work by a master craftsman.

TIME PIECES

A DUBLIN MEMOIR

The celebrated author turns inward with this enchanting memoir about his beloved hometown.

Franz Kafka Prize and Booker Award recipient Banville (Mrs. Osmond, 2017, etc.) turns nostalgic in this quietly reflective, personal meditation on Dublin. Like the author’s pathologist detective Quirke of his pseudonymous Benjamin Black novels, Banville’s 1950s Dublin is where he begins his walking tour, with the “laboratory of the past…shaped and burnished to a finished radiance.” He lovingly recounts December birthday trips by train with his mother from their Wexford home to visit his spinster Aunt Nan at her Percy Place flat. Dublin, writes the author “was for me what Moscow was for Irina in Chekhov’s Three Sisters, a place of magical promise towards which my starved young soul endlessly yearned.” Literary city signposts abound: Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh, and more. Banville then joins up with his friend Cicero, who “knows a Dublin that few others are aware of or have forgotten ever existed.” As a young man, the author shared the “shabby splendours” of an Upper Mount Street flat with his aunt in the “dazzlingly bright lights of Dublin.” Yeats’ daughter Anne lived below. “What a prissy and purblind young man I was,” writes Banville, “a snob with nothing to be snobbish about.” Forays into Dublin’s streets and pubs and Ireland’s history mix with memories and images flickering about like film running in a darkened room, all brought to life with picturesque-perfect details. He visits Iveagh Gardens with his daughter to show her “a place precious to me, where I was once sweetly and unhappily in love.” He and Cicero visit one of his “favourite buildings in all the world”—the Great Palm House of the Botanic Gardens. The text is beautifully complemented with Joyce’s well-chosen photographs.

Told in a conversational style both luscious and luxuriant, this is exquisite work by a master craftsman.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3283-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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