A disappointing version of Sweeney's well-received one-woman, autobiographical show of the same name. Sweeney, best known as the androgynous character Pat on Saturday Night Live, was excited about living alone in her small L.A. home after an amicable divorce from her husband of five years. But when her younger brother Mike was diagnosed with advanced lymphoma in 1995, he moved in with her. Then Sweeney's parents followed suit. The three houseguests, along with Sweeney and her three cats, made quite a crowd in a house intended for one. Added to the fray were more family members and friends who popped in to visit the ailing Mike, as well as a brand-new boyfriend of Sweeney's named Carl, whose visit from out of town turned into a Catholic schoolgirl's dream of surreptitious sex behind the house after family dinners. (Amazingly, the two are still together.) Sweeney's tale of domestic woe is interspersed with the story of Mike's decline, his chemotherapy, and his eventual death. Also, Sweeney discovered toward the end of Mike's battle that she, too, had cancer—a treatable cervical cancer that necessitated a hysterectomy three days after Mike's death. This is sad, powerful material. Sweeney tells it here in a deadpan way that is never maudlin, but that is also, on the other hand, too terse to be emotionally satisfying. The same is true of the lighter moments: While there are events and characters that seem to have great comic potential (such as Sweeney's descriptions of her parents' idiosyncracies and her recollections of her career highlights and lowlights), that potential never seems to be fully realized. Occasionally touching but sadly flat. Something seems to have been lost in the translation from stage to page. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: July 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-553-10647-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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 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...


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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