Flawed, but bold and surprisingly moving.

SHAMELESS

HOW I DITCHED THE DIET, GOT NAKED, FOUND TRUE PLEASURE...AND SOMEHOW GOT HOME IN TIME TO COOK DINNER

Fertility advocate Madsen recounts her midlife sexual self-reclamation.

The narrative begins with the 42-year-old mother of two telling her colorfully neurotic women friends that she feels “trapped in [her] own life” and sexually unfulfilled. Refusing to break matrimonial vows in pursuit of an extramarital affair, she sought out gay erotic-massage therapists in hopes of easing the sexual restlessness that a steady diet of “fantasy, romance novels, and porn” could not. The experts she met reawakened her senses and helped her learn to love a body she viewed as overweight, aging and inadequate. Though generically—even stereotypically—handsome as men, they, like most of the other narrative figures, are somewhat flat and serve limited textual roles—in this case, to initiate a nervous but determined middle-aged woman in the ways of “sacred sexuality.” With the help of her teachers, Madsen explored her most forbidden desires, including a fondness for erotic games of bondage and domination. In so doing, she was transformed from “a bundle of missed opportunities” into the envy of all her adulterously “liberated” friends. Not content to savor her experiences alone, she went on to earn online notoriety for daring revelations she made under the name “Riverdale Goddess.” The more she comes to terms with her sexuality, she writes, the more she finds that other issues—in particular, those pertaining to weight and food—fall by the wayside. Madsen even found renewed zest in her marriage and in the “freakish” monogamy that seems so out of step with the disregard for marital commitment she sees around her. The language is at times clumsy and some of the dialogue slightly wooden, but the edgy quirkiness of the story, combined with the author’s honesty and character-saving ability to laugh at herself, make the book an engaging read.

Flawed, but bold and surprisingly moving.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60529-175-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Rodale

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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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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