Many of those who look for their real names here will feel they could have written a better book.

POSEUR

A MEMOIR OF DOWNTOWN NEW YORK CITY IN THE '90S

There is lots of name-dropping and post-punk heroin hipster cliché in this memoir by a rock journalist who seems to be a legend in his own mind.

More of the self-deprecation suggested by the title would have benefitted the manuscript. Though Spitz has published biographies with titles such as Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue (2011), he’s mainly familiar as a writer for Spin, where he jumped the sinking ship “in 2006 after nine years and fourteen cover stories.” His account of the Spin years shows panache, as he rose from website blogger to gossip columnist to feature writer—where he developed a friendship and rivalry with the more successful Chuck Klosterman. He describes his first encounter with a reporter for that magazine, who described her beat as “a cool hunter…I spot trends and I write about them,” and then he proceeds to gush that “Spin magazine was, in the late eighties and early nineties, a glorious thing. Running into a real Spin writer was akin to brushing up against a senator or congressman. These were people with real power.” Ultimately, Spitz ascended to what he terms “a privileged view,” interviewing rock artists and attending concerts for free. Beyond the scope of the subtitle, there is plenty about college, heroin addiction, unpublished poetry and novels, unproduced LA screenplays and an email friendship with Courtney Love. An opening disclaimer admits that “certain names and descriptions of individuals have been altered”—which is fine when referring to a generic junkie buddy as “Hazy Jane” but inexplicable in repeated references to a well-known scenester who signed the MC5 and the Stooges and inspired the Ramones’ “Danny Says.”

Many of those who look for their real names here will feel they could have written a better book.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-306-82174-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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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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