A fiercely honest and melancholy portrait of a “protean figure who cast a large shifting shadow.”

THE LOST PRINCE

A SEARCH FOR PAT CONROY

A very personal memoir about the acclaimed Southern writer.

Novelist and journalist Mewshaw’s (Sympathy for the Devil: Four Decades of Friendship with Gore Vidal, 2015, etc.) portrait of his close friend Pat Conroy (1945-2016) is breezy, sympathetic, and affectionate. Conroy, he writes, was a “manic talker and tireless narrator of stories, some much too tall to be true, some so searingly true they left scars on his listeners,” and he calls Conroy’s works “the prose equivalent of lacerating confessional poetry.” Their friendship extended through the 1980s and ’90s when Conroy was working on Prince of Tides and Beach Music. It was Conroy who later suggested Mewshaw write about him. When Conroy first met Mewshaw in Rome in 1981, he told him he was “desperate for a friend.” Mewshaw was an amiable writer who was also a good listener, which Conroy needed. Mewshaw then “devoured” The Water Is Wide and The Great Santini. The latter comes up quite a bit here, not just because it was so well-done and became a popular movie, but because Mewshaw, as he got closer to Conroy, became increasingly suspicious about the veracity of Conroy’s descriptions of his relationships with his “ruthless” Marine father and submissive mother. As Conroy once told Mewshaw, “I’m the most falsely open person you’ll ever meet.” Their families also became close, and Mewshaw writes extensively about these relationships—sometimes too much. Conroy “wore me out,” Mewshaw writes, “and he worried me.” Their friendship fell apart over family issues. The book is full of wonderful anecdotes and vignettes about fellow writers William Styron, Mark Helprin, Nora Ephron, and Gore Vidal, who told Mewshaw that Conroy’s “novels about dysfunctional families indicate just how fucked-up our nuclear units have become.” Mewshaw also chronicles Conroy’s alcoholism and the devastating effect it had on his writing and health.

A fiercely honest and melancholy portrait of a “protean figure who cast a large shifting shadow.”

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64009-149-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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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