Honest and entertaining, this book forces readers to confront the systems of inequality in which we are all implicated.

THE UNEXPECTED GUEST

HOW A HOMELESS MAN FROM THE STREETS OF L.A. REDEFINED OUR HOME

One privileged LA couple tastes the labyrinthine magnitude of the city’s homelessness epidemic when they invite one of those chronically affected to live in their backyard guest cottage.

Konik (Report From the Street: Voices of the Homeless, 2018, etc.), an ex–professional gambler, and his wife, jazz singer Charmaine Clamor, have tired of their lives of material success. They have reoriented themselves away from the pursuit of fame and fortune to that of healing, creativity, and community building. “Maybe the better angels of our nature aren’t as distant and inaccessible as most of us imagine,” muses Konik. “Maybe all that’s required to access and embrace these angels is to decide consciously and willfully that we’ve got everything we’ll ever need, with plenty of extra to share.” When Fisher King Mike, a local man who suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and chronic homelessness, comes to them for help, they trepidatiously begin a process of trust-building that starts with Mike’s bags camping out behind their hedge. Two years later, he’s become part of the family. To the book’s credit, all parties behave in a deeply human manner. Mike proves himself to be an excellent handyman but struggles with reliability and his cadre of inner demons. Konik and his wife waffle between their generosity and their distrust, their resistance to having their space and routine disturbed and their concerns about Mike’s hygiene. Though Konik’s dialogue can be wooden as he translates his narration from the stage to the page (he’s currently a comedian as well as a writer), and lapses into self-promotion or melodrama sometimes distract the reader from the bigger issues at stake, Konik has an amusing storytelling style that keeps the pages turning.

Honest and entertaining, this book forces readers to confront the systems of inequality in which we are all implicated.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63576-729-2

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Diversion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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