An affecting and humorous account of one talented woman’s search for organization and meaning.

Dinnerstein, who recently retired as a language-skills teacher at CUNY where she worked for more than 30 years, had an office infamous for heaps of boxes, a home cluttered with mementos and a head-turning car full of junk—including several pieces of lumber she intended to return to Home Depot someday. But a chance meeting with an old acquaintance on the eve of her 50th birthday caused the author to rethink her unorganized life and ask herself why she had spent a lifetime hoarding broken pottery, unsorted nails and buttons and unused furniture. What she discovered surprised her; she’d been “searching for God” the entire time. Enter “The Holy Sisters,” a group of offbeat friends and fellow spiritual seekers, who helped haul away the author’s excess physical and mental baggage. Even after an epiphany when struggling to recall why she kept a bowl with a broken lid for years, she still had a hard time letting go, as each object was attached to a memory, pleasure or future hope. Dinnerstein’s revelations amass like slowly unearthed jewels through writing, therapy and even Clutterers Anonymous. A poignant visit with her mother, an unexpected home purchase and the trauma of 9/11 combine in a breathtaking journey that delivers kabbalistic wisdom. Patience for a hoarder’s personality is required, as the ups and downs of the quest, while realistic, are often tedious. However, hanging onto the author’s smooth-flowing voice is easy, and there is nothing junky about what she discovers beneath the rubble. 


Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58005-310-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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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 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

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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