A distinguished essayist, poet, and professor reflects on a life lived in a female body.

In this memoir in essays, Wade (English/Florida International Univ.; When I Was Straight, 2014, etc.) meditates on her lifelong fascination with words, language, and the body. She opens with a piece that establishes herself as a body living in “a constellation of bodies” called a family. Wade depicts herself as a girl who loved the beauty of actresses like Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe but whose own body did not fit the conventional mold of feminine desirability. Like a scientist, she wrote about the imperfect bodies of those around her in journal entries that looked like “inventories” rather than personal reflections. In the second essay, the author examines the differences that sometimes made her feel like a “monster in your own closet.” An only child who took comfort in an imaginary sister/friend, Wade developed secret affections for two females: a female teacher and a camp counselor. At the same time, she writes, “I have also failed to love someone I was expected to love—my first boyfriend.” In the third and fourth essays, the author remembers adolescence as a time of growing awareness about the consequences of being female in a patriarchal society. While her parents warned her about the dangers of sex, she learned how to engage in heterosexual courting rituals that would lead to marriage and motherhood. Yet at the all-girls Catholic schools she attended that taught her to appreciate everything from religious difference (she was Protestant) to the “‘poetry [of] math,” she also learned about the power women had to be autonomous beings. In the fifth section, Wade intermingles episodes from her early life with those that tell the story of her final, joyful acceptance of the lesbianism she had suppressed with a witty series of quasi-mathematical equations and philosophical propositions. Intelligent and lyrical, the narrative mingles often comic musings on female embodiment with insightful observations about the meaning of love and self-acceptance.

A sharp, innovative text.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8142-5567-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Mad Creek/Ohio State Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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