A smart, entertaining and woefully funny take on being female and single.

THE ART OF NOT HAVING IT ALL

TRUE STORIES OF MEN, SEX, AND OTHER DISASTERS

Spectator columnist Kite turns some of her most wince-worthy experiences as a single woman into a humorous memoir, previously published in the U.K. as Real Life.

The author’s sometimes-rueful, sometimes-biting tone thwarts despair by turning every disaster into hilarious high drama. The book begins with Kite cancelling her wedding, underscoring how hard it is to find Mr. Right. She felt bad, of course, but she channeled her energy into the absurdities of dealing with “wedding-business” people who don’t believe in the phrase, “the wedding is off.” Even though her life was “in ruins,” the wedding gown vendor still wondered if she wanted to choose a different dress, as if that would change her mind. Working up to laugh-out-loud material, Kite writes of her “odd-job man” disappointments, including Tony, “a big, bearded man in his sixties,” possibly “the world’s most intellectual plumber” but clearly not the best man for the job, as he caused an “explosion of water” in her kitchen while repairing the boiler. Her dating life has been just as messy. A romance with a man who buys everything in groups of nine went sour when he insisted she line up her shoes just so. After more dating fiascoes, Kite sought help from a “relationship therapist” who charged £150 an hour and gave her leaflets with positive affirmations. Eager to have children but with no man in sight, the author investigated adoption, meeting a social worker who dashed her hopes with a series of Catch-22 questions. Readers might lose patience with Kite, a successful, well-educated, admittedly high-maintenance woman who has an exciting career in journalism and posh friends but is unable to manage her life, if she weren’t such a good writer and keen observer of human foibles, particularly her own. Even if we feel ambivalent about some of her choices, we can’t help but cheer her on.

A smart, entertaining and woefully funny take on being female and single.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1250055149

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin’s Griffin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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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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