A vivid, moving account of addiction, trauma, and hard-won triumph by two survivors.

The Painting and The Piano

AN IMPROBABLE STORY OF SURVIVAL AND LOVE

Two adults overcome damaging childhoods and addictions to find each other and rebuild their lives together in this affecting debut memoir.

Though the two authors didn’t meet until they were adults in recovery and come from very different backgrounds, their struggles with alcoholism brought them together. While Lugo says she was actually born addicted to heroin, she spent most of her early childhood raised by loving foster parents, the Cahns, on Long Island. But when her biological parents returned to reclaim custody, the Cahns were ultimately forced to give her up despite her wishes and a lengthy court battle. Her time with her biological parents was marked by physical and verbal abuse that left scars that lingered through adulthood. Lipscomb, by contrast, was raised in an upscale Missouri suburb by a very prominent family. Yet his beautiful socialite mother was a raging alcoholic whose behavior caused the breakup of her marriage. Lipscomb began drinking himself as a teenager, and his alcoholism started to consume him, destroying his first marriage and causing him to lose custody of his children. Eventually he sought treatment from Alcoholics Anonymous, where he met Lugo, who was in an unhappy marriage and addicted to both alcohol and pills. As they became closer, romantically and emotionally, they began to heal; the title refers to two happy memories of their respective childhoods that they embraced, with a renewed sense of peace. The memoir is written in an accessible narrative style, with each chapter alternating between the two authors. Toward the end, when the narrative begins to give way to platitudes like “We believe that if we can find our way to the light, then anyone can,” the story starts to feel a little repetitive. Yet those words do feel genuine because of the despair and joy detailed in the previous pages. This memoir should serve as, in the authors’ words, “a roadmap of sorts” for others.

 A vivid, moving account of addiction, trauma, and hard-won triumph by two survivors.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: ALJ Marketing LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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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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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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