At times, the narrative becomes dull as Barth veers down paths few readers will find of interest—e.g., a discussion of her...

MY ALMOST CERTAINLY REAL IMAGINARY JESUS

A MEMOIR

Learning how to be gay and Christian.

From an early age, Barth knew she was different than other girls, and she knew she had to keep this difference a secret. Raised in the Midwest in an old-fashioned Presbyterian home, the author was trained to view homosexuality as deviant and sinful. As such, she could not accept her sexuality and certainly could not reconcile it with her faith. As Barth grew to more fully recognize her attraction to her own gender, she reacted by shutting herself off as much as possible from that very attraction, pretending to be straight. Eventually, she found herself diving into Christian fundamentalism as a way out of her dilemma, going so far as to take part in a class designed to change her sexual preference. Throughout, she was accompanied on and off by an “imaginary Jesus.” Barth’s concept of her imaginary Jesus may be difficult to grasp for many readers. He is an imaginary friend, an inner voice, someone for her to cry out to in times of desperation, but he is certainly not the divine Jesus Christ of organized Christianity. Barth recalls her youth and young adulthood with vivid detail and imagery. Though much of the book centers on her faith or life amid various faith traditions, she also weaves detailed stories about her relationships with others, including the woman she would go on to marry.

At times, the narrative becomes dull as Barth veers down paths few readers will find of interest—e.g., a discussion of her good credit report when she applied for a home loan. Apart from such divergences, however, the author provides an intriguing life story.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9800407-5-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Arktoi/Red Hen Press

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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