THE APPRENTICE WRITER

ESSAYS

From nonagenarian expatriate Green (The Green Paradise, p. 1233, etc.): a collection comprised of essays, lecture notes, and a short story written in 1920, when the author was a student at the University of Virginia. Like papers retrieved from a trunk in the attic, a few of these pieces carry a whiff of the antique—but there's also much to savor and enjoy. Born in France to American parents, Green grew up bilingual, although—as he admits in ``An Experiment in English''- -``as a child I could not believe English was a real language, to me the real names of things were French.'' This dichotomy leads Green to analyze the difficulty of writing in another language; the way in which language shapes material; and the challenges that writers face in exile. He cites a poignant encounter in wartime London with his great friend AndrÇ Gide, who wanted to ask a bus conductor for directions; though Gide could talk easily with English-speaking literati, he was ignorant of colloquial English. This subtle difference between language and nationality is further explored in ``Translation and the Fields of Scripture,'' while, in ``On Keeping a Diary,'' Green writes about the difficulty of telling the truth as well as of giving an accurate self-portrait- -``one of the most hazardous occupations because it involves the whole of a man's personality, good and bad.'' Other notable pieces include a lecture on ``How a Novelist Begins''—which remains relevant and fresh, as do ``Eight Lectures on Novel Writing''—and a memoir, ``As I Look Back,'' recalling Paris between the wars and Green's friendship with writers like Gide and Cocteau. The short story (``The Apprentice Psychiatrist'') and some recollections of now-forgotten French writers and literary salons have not worn as well. Elegant evocations of a golden age when writers wrote—and lived well—in Paris, which truly was the city of light.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-7145-2956-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Marion Boyars

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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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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