HOLLYWOOD RAT RACE

The King of the Really Bad Movies reveals the secrets of his, well, success’somewhat inadvertently. Wood is best known as the writer, director, and producer of such instant trash-can liners as Bride of the Monster, That Sinister Urge, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and the never-to-be-forgotten (or forgiven) Glen or Glenda? (a.k.a. “I Changed My Sex”). The subject of an affectionate Tim Burton film that bore his name, Wood was nothing if not persistent in his desire to crack the walls of the Hollywood palace. In this previously unpublished effort, he outlines for all would-be actors and actresses the pitfalls that await them when they go west in search of the cinematic El Dorado. And it is truly a worm’s-eye view. Wood manages the singular feat of simultaneously depicting the film industry as a kind of hard-earned nirvana and a cesspool of greasy-handed lechers, quick-buck artists, and con men. He does so in a tortured prose that will be familiar to anyone who has seen one of his films, littered with solecisms, bordering on a kind of hysterical incoherence. (“They never error in their delivery of lines. . . .”; “But the guy had such a dynamic veneer. . . .,” to offer two choice examples.) If there is a finite supply of exclamation marks in the world, this book will deplete it. As a period piece that includes advice on cheap hotels at which to stay, it has a certain stupid charm. But if you weren’t suffering from “irony fatigue” before, the publication of this curiosity will send you over the edge.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-56858-119-X

Page Count: 140

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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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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