The ending of the book—the kids grown, the parents’ move to sell the course—leaves a wistful feeling, but like mini-golf...

MY FAMILY AND OTHER HAZARDS

A MEMOIR

The story of a girl, her family and the miniature golf course they owned.

Miniature golf—or “putt-putt,” depending on where you’re playing—is one of those activities that can be hard to pigeonhole. It’s not quite a sport, per se, but it does have a professional association (the USPMGA, of course)—i.e., more than a game but not quite at the same level as bowling. Without a doubt, though, it is a family pastime, a place to take children on the weekend—until your family buys a miniature golf course, and then it’s your job. At age 10, Melby found herself thrilled to hear her father ask if they’d like to buy Tom Thumb Miniature Golf in Waupaca, Wisconsin. As is the case with many such amusement places, it’s one thing to visit them for a round of putt-putt; it’s another thing entirely to be personally involved with the upkeep of the course, the management of the customers (who don’t always recognize where the course ends and the owner’s personal residence begins), and the birds with their nests and their offspring and their cavalier approach to waste management. Melby has written for National Lampoon and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, which is a good indicator of the approach she takes in this witty memoir. Starting with a dryly cautionary few pages advising readers to never go to Wisconsin, each chapter is dedicated to a hole on the course. As the family goes from stumbling new entrepreneurs, the former owner having left no useful instructions, to fairly successful small-business owners, Melby and her siblings grow up.

The ending of the book—the kids grown, the parents’ move to sell the course—leaves a wistful feeling, but like mini-golf itself, the story is a lot of fun and enjoyable to navigate.

Pub Date: July 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9831-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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