A charming memoir that will amuse and inspire parents, teachers, and Shakespeare fans.

TEACHING WILL

WHAT SHAKESPEARE AND 10 KIDS GAVE ME THAT HOLLYWOOD COULDN'T

A former actress shares her experiences running a Shakespeare acting club at a Los Angeles elementary school as well as reflections on her own life and career.

Canadian-born actress Ryane had walked away from an acting career and was working as an acting coach and living in LA with her husband, William, when she spotted a flyer that asked for “civilian help” to make Arden Street Elementary “the best school possible.” She volunteered to run an after-school Shakespeare acting club at the school, where students were mostly of color and from low-income families, and transformed a rowdy, distracted group of children into an acting troupe ready to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She had them follow “rules” for the club: respect each other, Shakespeare, and the acting process and write in journals (excerpts are included here). Ryane soon realized that her group had issues beyond her own experience (literacy challenges) and reminiscent of her own life (facing the scrutiny of casting); she includes several autobiographical flashback sequences for context. Throughout the rehearsal process, Ryane learned to navigate the balance of leading and learning from the children, who proudly came together to play Titania, Bottom, et al., by year’s end. Ryane brings a wry tone to this highly enjoyable memoir, and parents and teachers will undoubtedly appreciate her stories about working with children who are by turns sweet and wily. She effectively brings her pint-size players to life; Miles, the only boy in the production, is a particularly well-drawn character who goes from just wanting to swing a sword to itching to play Hamlet. It’s inspiring how Ryane helped these kids step up to Shakespeare, and their journal excerpts are often hilarious (“William Shakespeare went to London because I like his plays”). The inclusion of various excerpts from Shakespeare’s works also underscores the evergreen emotional connections to be found in the Bard’s work. Overall, a bravura performance.

A charming memoir that will amuse and inspire parents, teachers, and Shakespeare fans.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1939629234

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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