THE ONLY THING THAT COUNTS

THE ERNEST HEMINGWAY-MAXWELL PERKINS CORRESPONDENCE, 1925-1947

Underneath the usual authorial complaints about royalties and editorial requests for finished manuscripts, Hemingway's dedication to his craft, and Perkins's to Hemingway, come through in this carefully abridged selection. Elsewhere Hemingway wrote, ``Plenty of times people who write the best write the worst letters.'' But he only occasionally exemplifies this rule himself. His correspondence with august editor Maxwell Perkins, spanning the businesslike and the personal, has the benefit of focusing on Hemingway's literary career, which sprawled through the Selected Letters (1981). Here we get to look over their shoulders during Hemingway's early time with Scribner's, in which he often has to defend (and sometimes amend) his use of strong language, starting with The Sun Also Rises, and to battle against cuts in magazine serializations (``Half the writing I do is elimination''). In this rich, sometimes swamping flow of letters, we see Hemingway's guard going gradually, but never totally, down and Perkins moving from literary associate to confidant (thanks to a fishing trip to Key West). Amid the quotidian debates about advertising and royalty advances, Perkins also has to insert himself into the Fitzgerald-Hemingway rivalry (Hemingway's side is candid but brutal) and diplomatically participate in literary feuds with Gertrude Stein and others, and critical skirmishes, notably involving Max Eastman, whom Hemingway wrestled to the floor in Perkins's office. Given Hemingway's fundamental unreliability about himself, Fitzgerald maven Bruccoli (Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1981, etc.) has something less than a biographic account, even after judicious assembly, sundry cuts, and helpful footnotes and chronologies. Still, these letters deliver the documentary evidence, sometimes unflatteringly, but always for Hemingway's serious craftsmanship and Perkins's subtle caretaking. Although the volume represents only a fractional side of Hemingway's life, it carries his last word on Perkins: ``You are my most trusted friend as well as my God damned publisher.'' (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-684-81562-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996

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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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