An engrossing, informative, and sometimes-frightening medical account that ends on an inspirational high note.

WAIT, IT GETS WORSE

A debut memoir explores love, cancer, and learning to live in the moment.

On June 29, 2012, Slaby and her husband, Michael, were preparing to finish work (she at a Chicago law firm, he with the Barack Obama re-election campaign) before boarding a plane for New York to attend a friend’s wedding. But first she had to see her doctor. She had been suffering from shortness of breath. Her physician detected a heart irregularity and insisted she see a cardiologist immediately. What followed became a nightmare medical saga. X-rays and CT scans revealed a grapefruit-sized tumor pressing down on her heart: “My tumor was pushing on my heart, which reacted to protect itself by filling the sac where it lives with fluid. There was so much fluid, however, that my heart was under attack from its own protection.” The author was diagnosed with stage 2 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Chemotherapy, the prescribed treatment, first involved discussions of how to preserve her fertility. She was only 33 years old. While the tumor was not removed surgically, chemotherapy successfully shrank it. And then a December 2012 follow-up PET scan showed her thymus lighting up. It could be nothing—the tumor, now one-quarter of its original size, may have wound around her thymus. Or it could be something dire. The ensuing surgery involved cracking open her chest. Then a medical error almost caused her death. Slaby’s narrative is about much more than cancer. Although the unusual complexity of the sequential medical emergencies the author endured, which she details in lucid, graphic prose, threatens to overwhelm the memoir, she also presents a tender love story. Slaby deftly intersperses portions that recall the shifting up-and-down dynamics of her long relationship with Michael. These sections, despite the periods of great turmoil, offer readers respite from the grueling medical drama. As she worked toward physical, psychological, and emotional recovery, the author meticulously documents how difficult it was for her, a self-described “control freak,” to let go of the past and find “grace and kindness inside the unexpected.”

An engrossing, informative, and sometimes-frightening medical account that ends on an inspirational high note.

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63331-028-5

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Disruption Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2019

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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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