Essential for Shandling fans and a good choice for readers interested in stand-up and comedy writing.

IT'S GARRY SHANDLING'S BOOK

Garry Shandling's family, friends, and colleagues paint an affectionate portrait of a driven, introspective artist who had a hard time getting out of his own head.

Apatow (Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy, 2015, etc.) never thought his comedy mentor and buddy was the kind of guy who liked to hold on to things. After all, the self-deprecating comedian was a practicing Buddhist. Nevertheless, following Shandling’s 2016 death at age 66, Apatow discovered that his teacher and former boss had actually kept everything—including a revelatory trove of journal entries and personal notes stretching back decades. The discovery led to the HBO documentary The Zen Diaries of Gary Shandling. Here, Apatow uses those earnest entries in conjunction with additional interviews to further explore the legendary comedian’s often besieged psyche. Despite stellar successes that included two seminal TV series (It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show), Shandling could never shake the death of his older brother, Barry, who died from cystic fibrosis when Garry was just 10. Under that dark shroud, Shandling additionally obsessed about award show monologues, TV scripts, and his unrelenting ego. “He had rage,” notes Sarah Silverman. “He could really hold on to stuff and be troubled by things that to other people might seem small, but he was always working on that, always trying to process it and understand it." Throughout his professional life, that diligence both helped and hampered Shandling, whether he was writing TV scripts for Sanford & Son or breaking into the movies with the ill-fated What Planet Are You From? In the latter case, Shandling’s mix of insecurity and perfectionism proved too much for director Mike Nichols, and the film flopped. Professional highs and lows aside, Shandling is remembered as a man who spent his entire life seeking and generously giving of himself—even if that self was the cause of most of his woes.

Essential for Shandling fans and a good choice for readers interested in stand-up and comedy writing.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51084-0

Page Count: 472

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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