Laugh-out-loud moments blended with honesty and despondency.

IF IT'S NOT ONE THING, IT'S YOUR MOTHER

A funny look at being an adoptive parent.

Former Saturday Night Live comedian Sweeney brings comic relief to yet another celebrity memoir on adopting and raising a family. After numerous unsuccessful relationships, the author decided she didn't need a man in order to have a child; she planned to adopt and find a husband later. She gathered her energy and applied to receive a Chinese girl, entering into motherhood much "like a golden retriever running after a ball." Sweeney was hooked on motherhood, but years later, when opportunity opened up an extended window of alone time—no child, no husband—the author was "giddy" with excitement. She reveled in the down time and spent her four weeks writing this memoir, which reminisces about her childhood, finding a suitable nanny during her daughter's childhood, her failed relationships and life as a working mother (the author has written several one-woman shows). Her thoughts swirled around the complexities of educating her daughter about human anatomy and sex: "it's like having a waste treatment plant right next to an amusement park. Terrible zoning….Like your nose and your mouth…they're both close to each other on your face, but you wouldn't stick a bean sprout up your nose." Sweeney also explores same-sex marriage, immigration, prejudices, death and dogs, and she pays homage to her own mother, aunts and friends who are parents, all the while wobbling on the tightrope of allowing her child to become her own person while influencing her in subtle but significant ways.

Laugh-out-loud moments blended with honesty and despondency.

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-7404-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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