Repetitive, strained and gratingly self-righteous.

SEEING EZRA

A MOTHER'S STORY OF AUTISM, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, AND THE MEANING OF NORMAL

Cohen (Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity, 2008, etc.) wants her readers to understand the process of raising an autistic child. Despite her good intentions, she has trouble adhering to her topic and including relevant details.

The author relates the many challenges unique to parenting a child with autism, but most readers will be less interested in the Cohen’s mundanely unraveling marriage, her exhaustively catalogued emotional needs (which she feels freer to share with readers than with her husband) or the various kinds of “energy” other people put out that she picks up on. The book reads more like a series of confessional journal entries than a well-structured memoir. Presumably because she is a trained psychotherapist, as well as a longtime recipient of psychotherapy, Cohen's writing often assumes an irritatingly clinical tone. The author is at her best when she ponders crucial questions related to the diagnosis and treatment of her son's condition—What is autism? Should autistic children be forced to behave in more “normal” ways? What is “normal”?—but she strains readers' patience with constant diatribes directed at well-meaning therapists, doctors, teachers, babysitters, “ex” friends and strangers she believes wronged her son, as well as gratuitous descriptions of her own parents' flaws and her not-quite-an-affair with a married friend. Cohen could have written a compelling essay about her son's autism for a parenting magazine; she does not have enough cohesive, original material to sustain an entire book.

Repetitive, strained and gratingly self-righteous.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58005-369-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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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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