A turbulent childhood is accurately rendered in this gritty, raw memoir of Carlisle’s family and her search for the truth...

WE ARE ALL SHIPWRECKS

A MEMOIR

Carlisle (Writing/Trinity Univ.) chronicles her quest to know the mother who died when the author was 3 weeks old.

The author had always been told that her mother died in a car accident, but after meeting with a detective when she was 8, she was left pondering what had actually happened to her. Carlisle had memories of living with her grandmother, Spence, and her good friend, Dee, and when Spence died, of moving in with her grandfather and his second wife. Both groups gave her snippets of information about her mother which often contradicted each other and never satisfied the desire to understand her past. Carlisle writes about how her childhood was different than most of her schoolmates’: her grandfather owned an adult video store, they lived on a boat with six cats, she had no idea who her father was, and she could find very few pictures of her mother. Her story intertwines the musings of a child who doesn't understand the complex world of adults, especially the dysfunctional adults who made up her world—the johns, the alcoholics, the men who frequented her grandfather's video store—with the adult woman on a mission to find out as much as she could about her mother. From the numerous, minute details the author includes, she was obviously loved, but she still lays bare the ugly moments, particularly of her grandfather, in her portrayals of her family. The nature of her mother's death and the compassion Carlisle feels toward her family justify the slow reveal of her family's sordid past. The book also includes a reading group guide and a conversation with the author.

A turbulent childhood is accurately rendered in this gritty, raw memoir of Carlisle’s family and her search for the truth about her mother's death.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4520-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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