CONFESSIONS OF A FAST WOMAN

The car columnist for Lear's sets out to determine ``the hold of internal combustion over our imaginations and our lives.'' Although her first name is noncommittal, Hazleton (England, Bloody England, 1989, etc.) happens to be a woman, a fact that she makes much of—and rightly so—in the male world of gear-shifting, engine grease, and torque. Her odyssey into Autoland becomes also a study in ``transgression,'' the crossing of boundaries set not only around gender but also around propriety, fear, death. At first, she sputters along an utterly predictable track: ``road, machine, and driver were blended into a single entity, an unholy union of asphalt and steel and flesh.'' But soon she kicks into fifth gear, roaring in a Formula Ford around a Connecticut racetrack (``I drove through my terror''), even finding ``direct, physical sexual arousal behind the wheel of a powerful car at speed.'' Racing, she learns, is not a matter of taking risks but of gaining control. She steps up to a Lamborghini, and at 155 mph finds the limits of her skill. Here, the book takes a sharp curve- -into a second book, in effect—as Hazleton becomes a mechanic's apprentice in Vermont. The pace slows. She falls in love with her pink mechanic's rag, with exploded diagrams of engine parts, with the tools of the trade. To her astonishment, it appears that the secret life of cars, ``a mystery peculiar to the male gender,'' is but ``a reasonable matter of mechanical cause and effect.'' Still, her conscience is troubled—while cars thrill, they also pollute. Environmental itchiness leads to an anticlimactic finale—a sidebar of sorts tacked on to the two books—as Hazleton tracks down engineering genius Paul MacCready, champion of the nonpolluting electric car. Still, apart from the structural creaks, a sleek, exciting, V-8 performance.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-201-63204-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992

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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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