Highly recommended for both experienced and aspiring authors and for avid readers who want to learn the back stories of the...

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SCRATCH

WRITERS, MONEY, AND THE ART OF MAKING A LIVING

The founder of the online journal Scratch, loaded with information about how authors labor to earn a livelihood, collects essays and interviews that appeared online and supplements those with original offerings.

In this well-organized, fascinating anthology, a host of fiction and nonfiction authors share practical tips and emotional intelligence. Among the best-known authors included are Susan Orlean, Cheryl Strayed, Jonathan Franzen, Roxane Gay, Jennifer Weiner, Richard Rodriguez, and Nick Hornby, all of whose contributions are worthy. Yet many of the most compelling essays come from lesser-known writers, some of whom have yet to publish a book. One such standout is Sarah Smarsh, a former grant writer and current magazine writer who splits her time between her native Kansas and her new home in Texas and whose first book will be published in 2017. Smarsh specializes in writing about poverty, especially the poverty of relatively uneducated whites; in her essay, she reflects on making the jump from her family's poverty to higher education and, eventually, a promising writing career. In “The Best Work in Literature,” anthology editor Martin, the managing editor of Zoetrope: All Story, grapples with similar issues, sharing anecdotes about trying to pay the rent and eat properly in an economy that pays poorly for published writing. Each contributor deals directly or indirectly with the often unhappy intersection of commerce and art in the contemporary American economy. For every commercial success story—e.g., Strayed, Weiner, Franzen, or Alexander Chee—there are countless failures. At times, what can best be termed as "luck" arrives, as in the essay by Nina MacLaughlin, who explains how a piece she reluctantly agreed to write for no pay led to a book contract.

Highly recommended for both experienced and aspiring authors and for avid readers who want to learn the back stories of the contributors.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3457-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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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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