A funny, fierce, and bold memoir in essays.

A gay black journalist gets personal about race, religion, and sexuality in America.

Houston native Arceneaux gathers his most provocative essays to discuss how he went about “unlearning every damaging thing I’ve seen and heard about my identity.” He begins with a reflection of his childhood and his devoutly Catholic—and homophobic—home environment. Although his mother taught him about sexuality early on, his father ferociously condemned a gay uncle who died of AIDS. Fearful of being revealed as homosexual, the author spent much of his adolescence masturbating to mental images of gorgeous men while praying that “God wouldn't grab Moses’s staff and knock the shit out of me with it.” When a priest approached him about joining the priesthood, Arceneaux realized he had to come to terms with who he was. The author experimented with same-sex relationships at Howard University, but he remained mostly closeted. After taking part in a New York City gay pride parade during college, he tentatively began coming out, first to other students and then to his sister. The music of Beyoncé—his “lord and gyrator” and a woman notable for how she always “[stood] firm” in who she was as an artist and black woman—also helped him find the courage to be himself. As Arceneaux grew into his gay identity, he contemplated the nature of gay marriage, cross-racial gay attractions, and his own relationships with other black men. He attempted to write about his revelations for the media, but when he did, his (mostly white) editors saw what “[they] wanted to see” rather than the truths he attempted to communicate. Arceneaux’s essays penetrate to the heart of intersectionality to reveal personal and religious trials of faith. Together, they make a powerful statement of self-acceptance in a world much in need of lessons about diversity, tolerance, and openness.

A funny, fierce, and bold memoir in essays.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7885-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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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