Upbeat, funny, unsparing, and way over the top…probably a lot like the man himself.

GREAT DEMON KINGS

A MEMOIR OF POETRY, SEX, ART, DEATH, AND ENLIGHTENMENT

The ultimate scenester of midcentury Manhattan, lover to a who’s who of gay artists and writers, tells all in a posthumous memoir.

Giorno (1936-2019) made his first major appearance on the American cultural landscape in Andy Warhol’s 320-minute movie of Giorno’s slumbering face, Sleep (1964). This memoir is also overlong, but the author has plenty of interesting stories to tell. He quickly dispenses with his privileged childhood, though we do hear about his first poem, written during his sophomore year in high school: “I was like a baby Olympic athlete going over the high bar for the first time.” Giorno graduated from Columbia in 1958, bursting with self-confidence. “I was young and beautiful and that got me what I wanted and all I wanted was sex,” he writes, and proceeds to share an abundance of graphic detail. Andy Warhol never really enjoyed it, and his wig got in the way at key points, but Giorno found his toe-sucking “deeply moving.” A multiyear affair with Robert Rauschenberg was filled with bliss and joy and mind-blowing sex. (Rauschenberg was not looking forward to being memorialized by Giorno, but his threat to sue expired with his death.) Jasper Johns was the author’s lover during the exciting period when his Dial-A-Poem project was the hottest thing in New York City. William Burroughs was Giorno’s next great passion despite Burroughs’ small penis and his instigating a threesome with Giorno’s “nemesis,” Allen Ginsberg—and Ginsberg was everywhere. Even when the author went to India to seek enlightenment, there he was, “fat and full of ego, an embarrassing uncool dad.” After Ginsberg’s death, the author admits the two of them “did not do such a good job in this life…we will, sure as hell, continue in future lives.” If reincarnation exists, Giorno will surely document it for us.

Upbeat, funny, unsparing, and way over the top…probably a lot like the man himself.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-16630-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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