A much-needed, engaging, and discerning biography that should help Wright find a new generation of readers.

JAMES WRIGHT

A LIFE IN POETRY

An authorized biography of the Pulitzer Prize–winning American poet.

Even though they never met, in Blunk, poet and co-editor of Wright’s Selected Letters, James Wright (1927-1980) has found his Boswell. Blunk’s account of the poet’s life is often a day-by-day record of just about everything significant he did. Anne, Wright’s second wife, provided his biographer with reams of primary source material—Wright was a relentless letter writer—and Blunk conducted hundreds of interviews and compiled a detailed schedule of Wright’s readings. Thanks to a prodigious memory, he could entertain his audiences by reciting hundreds of poems as well as his own. He was born in the run-down, industrial town of Martins Ferry on the Ohio River and was always desperate to leave it, which he did with a stint in the Army. His first wife, Liberty, even married him “to get out.” But Wright never really left, and it inspired his poems, with themes of a “baffled loneliness,” poverty, and down-and-out people. Blunk meticulously explores Wright’s years of teaching, his painful bouts of depression, his recurring alcoholism, and how his poems were crafted. Wright was a maker of poems, revising them over and over, constantly constructing, tearing down, and rebuilding. Quoting generously from Wright’s poems throughout, Blunk carefully chronicles the ongoing development of his style as he moved from regular meter and rhyme to free verse, simple language, and striking imagery. His many translations of contemporary Spanish poetry helped contribute to this evolution—as did Wright’s close friend, poet and editor Robert Bly, who did “more than any other poet to secure Wright’s legacy.” Virtually every important poet of the age had links to Wright, including James Dickey, Donald Hall, W.S. Merwin, Theodore Roethke, and Galway Kinnell. He became especially close to Anne Sexton.

A much-needed, engaging, and discerning biography that should help Wright find a new generation of readers.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-17859-8

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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