Lighter in subject matter than her previous work, Satrapi keeps things semicomical, even when relating matters of severe...

EMBROIDERIES

Let’s talk about sex . . . and the disappointments of men.

In her previous pair of graphic novels (Persepolis, 2003 and 2004, whose acclaim helped to heighten the recent push to further legitimize an always somewhat maligned field), the young author told the autobiographical story of her unsuccessful life in Europe before being forced to return to her native Iran, and the culture clash that ensued. This time, Satrapi keeps to her earlier themes of autobiography, Iranian womanhood and its conflicts within a traditional society being encroached on by Western ideas, while providing a somewhat lighter framework. Structured more as a casual conversation, a coffee klatch among the girls, Satrapi eavesdrops on her grandmother and relatives and friends as they talk about being women and, more specifically, about men. It’s refreshingly surprising from the get-go, as Satrapi introduces her grandmother as an elegantly made-up grande dame, an old woman who just happens to be a lifelong opium addict and who encourages Satrapi to close her eyes more—all in order to have a drugged look that would be seductive for men. Placed in charge of the all-important samovar, Satrapi listens as the women sip their tea and talk, because as her grandmother says, “to speak behind others’ backs is the ventilator of the heart.” In these anecdotes, men are uniformly imbecilic, or simply clueless, as witnessed by the story of the non-virginal woman who took the grandmother’s advice and, on her honeymoon night, placed a razor blade between her thighs so that her husband would think he’d broken her hymen. Things didn’t go well. More laughs are to be had, though often bittersweet, in the other tales in which women find themselves stuck between a patriarchal tradition and the desire for love and freedom, though nothing is made out to be quite so simple as that.

Lighter in subject matter than her previous work, Satrapi keeps things semicomical, even when relating matters of severe heartbreak, and her dashed-off drawings (with their slightly childlike expressions) help matters along.

Pub Date: April 19, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-42305-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more