The rise and fall of a one-book wonder, told by the Pulitzer Prizewinning Washington Post literary critic. If Exley's raucous ``fictional memoir'' of failure, fame, and football, A Fan's Notes, is a cult book, then Yardley (Ring: A Biography of Ring Lardner, 1977) has been a steadfast apostle. Since its publication in 1968, he has promoted it in his newspaper writing and written an introduction to the Modern Library edition (to be published simultaneously with this biography). He was also a distant friend to Exley, ``the most elusive and mysterious of men,'' a charming and exasperating ne'er-do-well, sponger, and barstool-propping man of letters. Despite this relationship, Yardley proves tough and objective in re-creating Exley's life, which differs little in substance from A Fan's Notes. Exley (192992) was the feckless younger son of the local football hero of Watertown, a small upstate New York burg. This might have been the son's only claim to fame had he not written a book that Yardley ranks alongside Invisible Man and The Adventures of Augie March for its evocation of a young man's disaffection with the American Way. A Fan's Notes apart, the biographic trail is scant in the early years, but Yardley connects Exley's departure from mainstream life not only to his father's early death and his failed romance as an adolescent with a WASP debutante, but also to a car accident that ended his own mediocre football career and presumably gave him a taste of mortality. As much as he is a fan of Exley's debut, he dismisses as ``honorable failures'' his later Pages from a Cold Island and Last Notes from Home, which follow the self-mythologizing, vagabond contours of Fitzgeraldian romanticism and Hemingwayesque machismo in chronicling Exley's alcoholism and failed marriages. Misfit adds a dark, factual foundation to Exley's one lasting book. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-43949-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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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 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 19, 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...


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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