A detailed, engaging account even though portions veer into wordy self-analysis.

PATCHWORK

A MEMOIR OF LOVE AND LOSS

A memoir explores one woman’s topsy-turvy life.

Doig (Kitchen Table Stories, 2007, etc.) opens her book with the story of her parents. Joe and Audrey got married in 1940, and in 1942, the author was born. The young family moved around a lot, and the relationship between Joe and Audrey became increasingly rocky. They eventually divorced, and in 1962, Doig entered her own troubled marriage. In the pages that follow, the author explains her adulthood with its variety of ups and downs. She dropped out of college, suffered a horrific car accident, was abandoned by her first husband, struggled to return to college as a single mother, lost a child in another auto crash, and lived on a dairy farm with her second spouse. But such incidents are merely the beginning. Later in life, Doig became a foster-care caseworker, worked with a therapist on her own problems, and even spent some time in a mental institution. She looks back on her life with the benefit of psychoanalysis, reflecting, for instance, on how she found herself dissociating at her son’s funeral. But the account is at its most striking when it portrays indisputably stark events, with or without the benefit of psychoanalytical terms. The loss of Doig’s son is the sort of tragedy that never truly goes away. Later, the author, whose relationship with her father was frequently fraught, found herself escorting him to one last visit to his favorite bar before taking him to the nursing home where he would ultimately die. While the scene may be mundane, it deftly incorporates a range of emotions, none of which are happy ones. But at times, the language of therapy can cut into otherwise powerful episodes. At one point, Doig explains how she and her daughters learned “healthier expressions of anger,” though that description does not make for the most stirring prose. Nevertheless, in the end, readers should come away with honest insights gleaned from a life of personal trials.

A detailed, engaging account even though portions veer into wordy self-analysis.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-63152-449-3

Page Count: 341

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2018

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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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