Searching, humble and quietly triumphant: Hall has managed to avoid all the easy clichés.

WITHOUT A MAP

A MEMOIR

An unusually powerful coming-of-age memoir.

Hall spent her childhood in a remote corner of New Hampshire. She got pregnant during her 16th summer, after sex with a college student she barely knew. It was 1965, and traditional values reigned in small-town New England. Busybodies at the Halls’ church somehow overlooked the fact that her parents were divorced, but they wouldn’t ignore Meredith’s indiscretion. The moment her pregnancy became public, she was kicked out of school. Her mother, deeply ashamed, sent her to live with her father in another town. Dad and stepmom grudgingly took her in, but forbade her to leave the house, or even to come downstairs when they had guests. Hall had a baby boy, gave him up for adoption and enrolled at a far-away boarding school. She slogged through senior year feeling hopelessly alienated from her mirthful classmates. Nonetheless, she dutifully went next to Bennington, only to drop out after a term. Then she began to drift. She moved to Boston, worked odd jobs, bounced from apartment to apartment. She allowed a fight with her stepmother to destroy her relationship with her father. Decades later, living in Maine, Hall began to pull her life together. She matriculated at Bowdoin College, the only “nontraditional student” the school had ever admitted; the short chapter detailing her dogged campaign to gain admission and her first day of classes is one of the most understatedly moving sections here. In 1987, her grown son tracked her down, enabling her to make peace with him and with herself. “I have caused harm, failed in the expectations and obligations of love,” she concludes in characteristically assured prose. “I have loved well. What I do each day is carried within me until I die.”

Searching, humble and quietly triumphant: Hall has managed to avoid all the easy clichés.

Pub Date: April 15, 2007

ISBN: 0-8070-7273-7

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2007

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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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