An entertaining blend of kooky events and earnest memories.

Dressing a Tiger

A debut memoir about growing up among mobsters and other oddities.

San Miguel, as a young girl growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut, in the late 1960s, was a fairly normal kid who loved mucking around in the lake, feared going to the dentist, and was concerned that her head was too big for her body (“My brother, Sid, says I look like Tweety Bird because my skull grows sort of bulbous at the temples”). What made her different from most children her age were her unusual parents: her mother, Patricia, read Dylan Thomas by the fireplace and had no qualms about throwing things at nuisance animals, she writes, and her father, Jack, a union negotiator, associated with members of organized crime, such as Carlo Gambino, head of the Gambino crime family. As Jack explained to her at one point, “Did you know I can have a man’s legs broken for $800.00? Pretty cheap deal, really.” The story encompasses the nuanced characteristics of Gambino hit men, Patricia’s relationship with Dallas district attorney Henry Wade (of Roe v. Wade fame), and a number of personal sentiments that range from the silly to the serious (“My satchel of secrets is becoming heavy with burden as this day progresses,” a troubled Maggie admits). The picture this book paints, however, is indisputably unlike any other. Anything, it seems, can happen in its world of grinning mobsters and lakeside adventures. That said, its third-person forays into the author’s family’s history (in 1929, for example, it says that Patricia’s father, who “reeks of hooch and the well seasoned whores of Wabasha Avenue,” committed a sexual assault) don’t prove quite as captivating as the latter-day, first-person accounts. Although readers may take some interest in what the author thinks made Patricia such a troubled eccentric, surely other scenes, such as one in which she throws a cat at a squirrel, allow for more poignant copy.

An entertaining blend of kooky events and earnest memories.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2016


Page Count: -

Publisher: Orchard Drive Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2016

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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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