A thoughtful and radically provocative collection.

A distinguished Mexican American writer meditates on the place of Xicanx culture in what he sees as a sick and increasingly fragmented global society.

Reacting in part to the political upheaval and chaos that have characterized the last decade, Rodriguez (Borrowed Bones: New Poems From the Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, 2016, etc.) offers 12 essays that reflect on the meaning of identity while offering a vision of a more humane world. In “The End of Belonging,” the author responds to Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican rhetoric by celebrating his Native American ancestry, which predated the European conquest of the Americas. As the descendent of Indigenous people, he sees himself as a child of the Earth who transcends the fabricated boundaries of nation. “I belong anywhere,” he writes. To counterbalance what he sees as the disease of capitalism brought to the Americas, Rodriguez advocates for a new “mythic imagination” in the essay titled “The Four Key Connections.” Through myths, people can find “sustenance for mind and soul.” Poetry is another avenue of healing the author believes society should explore. In “Poet Laureate? Poet Illiterate? What?” he discusses poetry as “medicine” that can not only “impact [but] change this world.” Throughout the book, Rodriguez speaks about Xicanx cultural achievements with pride. In “I Still Love H.E.R,” he discusses the Xicanx–hip-hop connection and the influence of that connection on recording artists around the world. In “Low & Slow in Tokyo” he describes the impact of Xicanx popular culture on anti-establishment Japanese youth. In speaking about himself, Rodriguez is, as always, honest and forthright. In “Men’s Tears,” he speaks openly about his violent gang past and the lesson he eventually learned that “men should cry more, connect more, feel more.” “The Story of Our Day” details the author’s unsuccessful but impactful 2014 Green Party bid for California governor, a campaign that emphasized nothing short of revolutionary change. Powerful from start to finish, Rodriguez’s book celebrates Xicanx culture and wisdom while calling for much-needed global healing.

A thoughtful and radically provocative collection.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-60980-972-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Seven Stories

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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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