GUTS

THE ENDLESS FOLLIES AND TINY TRIUMPHS OF A GIANT DISASTER

Johnston, the comic actress best known for her role on 3rd Rock from the Sun, recounts the catastrophic medical crisis—and the alcohol and pill addiction that precipitated it—that led her to reevaluate her life and begin recovery.

The author’s voluble, bawdy prose style is immensely likable, and her rigorous honesty in recounting her lowest moments is admirable. Still, readers may question the need for another celebrity addiction memoir. Johnston herself repeatedly raises the question, lampooning the narcissistic impulse that plays a part in writing such a book, and the implied answer is that her good humor and lack of vanity encourages reader identification and distinguishes her offering from similar but more self-important works. She makes a strong case; her reminiscences of an alienated adolescence (Johnston reached her striking height of six feet early) and frustrating professional experiences are never less than amusingly candid and fleetly paced, ensuring the narrative of her nearly fatal descent into abject addiction and hard-won recovery never becomes a chore to get through, and her “best girlfriend telling it like it is” demeanor makes her struggle eminently relatable. Her descriptions of the trauma done to her digestive tract and the minimal comforts of her London hospital stay are vividly and memorably rendered, grounding her ostensibly frivolous tone in authentic pain and horror—there is surprising emotional resonance under all the jokey self-deprecation. Another celebrity drug memoir—but an honest, brave and funny one.  

 

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-3505-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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