A story rich in emotional description but hastily recounted at times.

I'M STILL HERE

A cancer survivor recalls her treatment, recovery, and life before her diagnosis in her debut memoir.

In the “uncommonly hot” summer of 1969, Reaves relocated to San Francisco after two years at Pomona College in Claremont, California. The opening chapter describes her going about her summer job answering calls at the Greyhound bus company and meeting an alluring streetcar driver named David. The memoir then fast-forwards to 2008, when Reaves was diagnosed with tongue cancer. The author sets about recounting her earlier years in which she lived in a six-bedroom commune started by David, whom she later married before they relocated to the British Virgin Islands to work as teachers. Chapters that chronicle the various stages of her cancer treatments are interspersed with those that tell of her attending law school, coming out, and meeting her life partner, Tanya. In 1986, Reaves gave birth to their son, Cooper, and afterward had chemotherapy for lymphoma. Her memoir is about how she learned to live her life regardless of her challenges, and she is skilled in conveying complex emotions. Recalling her drug regimen for tongue cancer, she writes: “I imagine my death, my memorial service, life in my household without me. Tears flow randomly, without warning. At times, I’m at peace, gazing out the window at brilliant blue skies and leafless trees, feeling the golden light pouring over my bed where I doze.” Such passages evoke an overwhelming sense of pathos. Other aspects of Reaves’ richly textured life are hurriedly described. In depicting the Virgin Islands, the author attempts to set the scene in the space of a sentence that doesn’t transport the reader: “St. Thomas teems with life: kids yelling, dogs barking, horns tooting, music blasting, parents yelling, mosquitoes buzzing, mice skittering, cockroaches crunching, lizards slithering, everyone laughing, laughing, laughing.” The central focus of the memoir, Reaves’ battle against cancer, is reflective and hopeful but not a step-by-step guide to coping. The emphasis is on the author’s courageous journey, which is in itself empowering.

A story rich in emotional description but hastily recounted at times.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-876-7

Page Count: 262

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2020

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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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