Winner of the Australian/Vogel Award (1989) for her first novel, Mood Indigo, and recently named one of the ten Best Young Australian Novelists by the Sydney Morning Herald, Sayer makes her American debut with this compelling memoir of her experiences while living on the edge with her father as a busker in the magical, menacing underworlds of New Orleans and the streets of New York. Sayer’s father was a jazz drummer in Australia. His intermittent here-one-minute-gone-the-next presence and his legends of excess while anywhere but beside his unstable family drove Mandy to seek him out. Together they set out for the streets of New York. Tap dancing to his drum riffs, negotiating his down-times of alcohol and drugs as well as the up-times of cocaine-induced ambition and frenzied visions of success, Sayer “became a lodger in my father’s castle . . . surrendering . . . to the indomitable architecture of his imagination.” Her narrative voice is vivacious and exact, no matter how grim the tales she tells. There are many points in the book when Sayer finds her younger self tempted to undermine her artistic voice in favor of her father’s pull toward self-destruction. Her poetic style captures the stench of the flophouse, the grinding ache of feet that have tapped the sheen off the pavement, and the reality of life for a young girl who continues to yearn, blindly, for her father’s love. Love does indeed save her, but it is self-love, her determination to finally and forever distance herself from her father’s dreamtime dance. She becomes at last “her own magician,” finding a liberating power in the magic of words. This memoir is about finding magic in the voice of expression. It is an incredibly vivid tale, filled with gutsy ingenuity and the stark range of emotion that Sayer survives. Her will to be heard may be tap-danced to her father’s drum but it echoes clear off the page. (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-345-42332-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1998

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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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