At one point in the narrative, an inner voices shouts, “such a cliché, cliché, cliché!” Indeed.

JOURNEY

A PERSONAL ODYSSEY

As celebrity biographies go, this barely readable one hits rock bottom

All the ingredients for a rip-roaring good read are here. A talented actress makes an Oscar-nominated name for herself in the talkies (Cinderella Liberty), marries and divorces “the most successful living playwright” in America (Neil Simon), has affairs with well-known if not superstar film and sports notables (Al Freeman, Keith Hernandez), was introduced to car racing by Paul Newman, and reflects on the rewards and shortcomings of the actor’s life. Then there’s the account of the unhappy Catholic childhood with a physically abusive, alcoholic father and an unresponsive mother; the battles with low self-esteem and repressed anger; the failed first marriage (he turned out to be gay, but not until after they were divorced); the years of therapy; and, at last, a guru who showed her the way to happiness. We even have the shadow of the ever-popular multiple personality, with (at last count) 12 different characters living inside Mason’s head, commenting on her behavior and her thoughts, although not exhibiting themselves in public. They include G.A. (Guardian Angel), The Pusher, The Critic, two Inner Children, and The Warrior (“think Daniel Day Lewis as the intrepid last of the Mohican scouts”). The story is framed as a journey within a journey, with the author setting out on a move from Los Angeles to New Mexico by car (actually, with three cars and two moving vans) and enduring flashbacks all along the way, from her childhood in St. Louis to recollections of Simon’s “special place in my heart.” She’s now a farmer of organic herbs and an occasional actress (including a continuing role on the sitcom Frasier), with only positive (but not insightful) words to say about anyone except herself.

At one point in the narrative, an inner voices shouts, “such a cliché, cliché, cliché!” Indeed.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2000

ISBN: 0-684-81524-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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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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