A solid if conventional biography that doesn’t go deep enough into the man behind the brand.

EVERYTHING'S BIGGER IN TEXAS

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF KINKY FRIEDMAN

The life of the one-and-only Kinky Friedman (b. 1944).

In this amiable biography, journalist Sullivan (Raisin’ Cain: The Wild and Raucous Story of Johnny Winter, 2010) follows the life and career of this larger-than-life figure. Best known to audiences either as a singer/songwriter or an offbeat mystery novelist, Friedman has been stirring the pot for more than 50 years, counting among his friends such legends as Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. The author dutifully recounts the legend of the “Kinkster” but rarely manages to pierce the veil of the carefully constructed persona that the Chicago-born original “Texas Jewboy” has created. The book follows the phases of Friedman’s life in chronological order, passing quickly over his Texas childhood to discover the songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee, circa 1970, trying to sell songs to Waylon Jennings. Unlike compatriots Dylan, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and even KISS members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, Friedman was unapologetically Jewish. “He wears his Jewishness like a backstage pass,” said a friend. According to his brother, Friedman was able to “blend Lenny Bruce with the Flying Burrito Brothers and Hank Williams” and created a brand that set him apart from the Nashville scene. Sullivan doesn’t shy away from controversy—Friedman’s satire “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” offended a wide swath of Americans, and the anti-feminist “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns into Bed” does not age well—but she does gloss over her subject’s hardcore drug habit. Political correctness aside, Friedman’s heart seems to be in the right place, and his cigar-chomping bravado must be a comforting guise for some American men. As his singing career cooled, we find him becoming a popular mystery novelist. “Kinky’s legacy is the ability to inspire,” writes the author, “to make people laugh, to make them think, to skewer sacred cows and hypocrisy, to continue to move forward, and to be his own man.”

A solid if conventional biography that doesn’t go deep enough into the man behind the brand.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4950-5896-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Backbeat Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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