A passionate, eloquent memoir about how “complex stories of humanity [and] our capacity for imagination are what give us...

BECOMING A MAN

THE STORY OF A TRANSITION

A transgender man chronicles his physical and psychological transition.

In 2017, author and social justice activist Carl (Artist-in-Residence/Emerson Coll.) was just seven months into testosterone hormone therapy when he began to be addressed as “sir” by service staff at a Manhattan hotel. It was a celebratory moment for the author, who was then just shy of his 51st birthday. Born Polly in Elkhart, Indiana, Carl spent “decades trying to know her, shape her into something that I can bear to live with,” but his life as a female was a futile battle with a persistent biological need to be male, which led to depression, rage, and multiple suicide attempts. Carl’s family life was equally complex and traumatic. He writes lucidly of early abusive behavior by his parents and, later in life, how their confusion and transphobia made becoming their son an uphill battle. His transition also began eroding his marriage when he completed an elective double mastectomy in 2013, yet his desperate need to finally “see more dimension to the world” and connect to his true gender persisted despite despair and misinterpretation. Throughout the memoir, Carl examines the nature of toxic and fragile masculinity and acknowledges lifelong issues with the problematic male gender. “I want to punch men long before I become a man,” he admits. Combining political debate and discourse on gender equality, the author’s elegant yet powerful prose will hopefully promote action from readers. His reflective memories often read like poetry, as when describing his own private process as an “evolving bodily transubstantiation where in one moment I am material subject matter to be consumed and in another I feel like a holy essence, my body and blood both sacrificed and blessed into being.” This moving narrative illuminates the joy, courage, necessity, and risk-taking of his gender transition and the ways his loved ones became affected and eventually enriched by it.

A passionate, eloquent memoir about how “complex stories of humanity [and] our capacity for imagination are what give us hope.”

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982105-09-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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