Good for beach-readers interested in celebrity memoir and famous comedians.

GROWING UP LAUGHING

MY STORY AND THE STORY OF FUNNY

That Girl star and Emmy-winning TV veteran attempts to find out how humor works.

Thomas (The Right Words at the Right Time: Volume 2: Your Turn!, 2006, etc.), the daughter of funnyman Danny Thomas, builds on her thriving second career as a nonfiction writer. Each chapter contains an autobiographical section—with the author’s memories of encountering funny famous folks during her upbringing in Southern California—along with an interview section featuring big-name comedians in the league of Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. Although interview banter with natural wits like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert is an easy sell, it’s Thomas’s autobiographical musings that are the most compelling aspect of the book—e.g., the surprisingly affecting story of her determination to carve out an identity as an actress without the help of her famous father. Particularly refreshing is the description of her coming-of-age in Beverly Hills at a time when the neighborhood still had a middle-class feel and was full of unpretentious eateries and mom-and-pop shops. Even more surprising to learn is that her father, unlike so many celebrity fathers, seems to have been a kind, caring, loving patriarch. On the downside, Thomas’s interviewing style is fawning at best, and except for a chat with a feisty and recalcitrant Elaine May and the always-amusing Don Rickles, the author’s questions fall too often in the “So, you were the class clown?” category. Her responses are often limited to “That’s so funny,” “Ah-ha” and “Wow.” Although all her subjects have big personalities and star-quality wit, there’s rarely any original, penetrating insight into the formative human experiences that coagulate to create the perfect comedic brain. There are patterns, of course: Often a comedian will come from a funny family or use humor as a way of masking insecurities, but these are hardly major revelations.

Good for beach-readers interested in celebrity memoir and famous comedians.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4013-2391-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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