Evocative prose illuminates the narrative’s people and places, but the author’s prolonged self-absorption eventually becomes...

THE SOLACE OF STONES

FINDING A WAY THROUGH WILDERNESS

Riddle (Senior Writer/Whitworth Univ.) chronicles her life growing up in the Montana wilderness.

The author relates how her seemingly idyllic childhood was darkened by the shadow of child abuse. In 1977, her parents moved their family to Troy, a small Montana town with a population of 950 people, where they purchased 21 wooded acres. Her family thrived while her father built a log home and they lived in a camper for three years. Before the move to the wilderness, they had lived in Butte, Montana, where the author and her brother had attended day care for several days a week. There, Riddle, then 5, was sexually abused by the director's husband. She kept silent about it because of his threat that he would kill her brother should she reveal his abuse. Though the author was eventually able to push the incident out of her mind, she was afflicted with nightmares and anxiety. In adolescence, she had dark sexual fantasies that frightened and shamed her. She attributes this partly to her passivity in enduring a relationship with a sexually abusive, demanding boyfriend, which exacerbated her anxiety. Riddle writes that her willingness to endure it was likely the result of the aftermath of the abuse she suffered as a child. After graduating college, she took a temporary job teaching English to students in Japan. While there, she found solace by holding a stone taken from a creek near her childhood home, but she was afflicted with severe anxiety and had to return home prematurely. Diagnosed with clinical depression and belatedly with celiac disease (which she believes to be stress-related), Riddle has continued to receive therapy and medication. Now happily married, although childless by her own decision, the author has slowly come to terms with the brutality she suffered as a child. Riddle writes movingly about the healing bonds of family, but by the end, her story grows a bit thin.

Evocative prose illuminates the narrative’s people and places, but the author’s prolonged self-absorption eventually becomes tedious.

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8032-7686-4

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Bison/Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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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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