Remarkably unsuccessful attempt to amuse in a chronicle of one young woman’s bumpy metamorphosis from feckless college graduate to responsible, married Arizona citizen.

Frequently relying for laughs on body parts and body functions (sagging breasts, facial hair, excrement), Notaro (The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club, 2002) begins her rites of passage as a boyfriend moves out, running off with an old girlfriend to follow his dream of growing and smoking pot and learning to play an acoustic guitar. Notaro is more annoyed than heartbroken, but when she meets the amazing “Good Guy,” she freaks out, feeling pressured to keep him. The guy is really good; soon after moving in, he proposes, which means she must deal with a wedding. Mom takes charge as Notaro, comprehending the “phenomenon known as Dreading the Wedding,” is sucked into the great “bridal black hole.” She worries about her weight, body hair, and getting through the ceremony itself, which takes place three miles from a major airport, making most of the responses inaudible. The happy couple then buys a house that turns out to have no air-conditioning, so Notaro and her husband fight over who sweats the least. Married life has its problems, like backed-up plumbing and strange smells, but she copes with that as pluckily as she does with the itchy bra she buys at an outlet mall, becoming an aunt to the imperious “Little King,” and rescuing her Nana in the grocery store as she scales a wall of baked beans. To her horror, she realizes she is finally becoming an adult: she’s using her grocery coupons and doesn't understand the new Levi’s commercials. In the best and least forced chapter, Notaro describes sitting next to Nancy Sinatra on a plane flight and telling the singer how much Frank Sinatra had meant to her Italian-American family, especially her Nana. If only the rest of the text were that relaxed and natural.

Forced humor: not funny.

Pub Date: July 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-76092-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

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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 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...


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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