This slim, readable memoir, while occasionally overly inward-facing, answers that question as one project morphs into...

IN THE PROVINCE OF THE GODS

The memoir of a writer who traveled to Japan and found a new perspective on himself.

Poet and memoirist Fries (Creative Writing/Goddard Coll.; The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin's Theory, 2007, etc.) was on the verge of a traumatic romantic split when he first traveled to Japan to research a book about the country’s approach to disability. His partner had urged him to pursue the grant, but after their separation, he was alone in a foreign country, where his lifelong disability that hinders his mobility would add to the challenge. He even has trouble removing his shoes, which Japanese decorum demands. Fries documents how he came to terms with the country—as a foreigner, as a disabled person, and as a gay man. Less than halfway through the narrative, he has made friends, found romantic interests, and made himself at home. “Why am I so comfortable here?” he asks. “Why does Tokyo seem, in so many ways, after such a short time, home?” Throughout the book, the author asks himself frequent questions; when his grant expired and he had to return to the U.S., he had a new, more disturbing set of them. He had fallen ill, received a diagnosis that suggested HIV, and was beginning to see his life in a whole new light. “I am filled with questions,” he writes. “What survives? Who survives? How long will I survive?” Fries eventually returned to Japan on a new grant, found a healer and a lover, and continued his research, but he also discovered that his focus had shifted. “The book about disability in Japan is the book I came to write,” he writes. “Now, with all that has changed, it seems that there is another, more urgent book to write, a book where I am more subject than researcher. Is there a connection between the two?”

This slim, readable memoir, while occasionally overly inward-facing, answers that question as one project morphs into another.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-299-31420-0

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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