Half-baked and unappetizing.

MY BERLIN KITCHEN

A LOVE STORY (WITH RECIPES)

In her debut, The Wednesday Chef blogger recounts her life in and out of the kitchen.

Weiss grew up shuttling between Berlin, where her Italian mother lived, and Brookline, Mass., home of her American father. As an adult, she moved from Paris to New York, where she began a food blog, until finally returning to Berlin to marry. Unfortunately, this coming-of-age memoir (with recipes) is fretful and flabby, and much of the prose violates the show-don’t-tell rule of writing. In one section, she describes how a pigeon almost collides with her head, interpreting the event as a sign from the universe that she should break up with her fiancé. In the hands of a more experienced writer, this could have been a gripping, even moving, discovery, but Weiss’ retelling of the event is unfocused and rambling—more fit for a stream-of-consciousness blog than a full-length book. Each overinflated chapter closes with a recipe from the author’s blog or from her personal life. A few of the recipes (e.g., spaghetti with breadcrumbs, capers and parsley) are so rudimentary, anyone who knows their way around a kitchen may wonder why they were included at all. But many more are ludicrously complicated, such as poppy-seed breakfast rolls that take more than three hours to make and “don’t keep well, so make sure to eat them warm the morning they’re made.” Still others require ingredients most Americans will be unable to find—e.g., one recipe calls for “20 to 25 elderflower sprays.” Weiss’ suggestion is to “look for them in the wild.” Much of the often-clunky writing leads to queasy descriptions of food, like a white asparagus salad “slurped up…lustily” and an “unctuous, quivering ragù.”

Half-baked and unappetizing.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02538-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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