Enjoyable manifesto celebrating rootless irresponsibility, with rueful acknowledgement of the pitfalls therein.

DISHWASHER

ONE MAN’S QUEST TO WASH DISHES IN ALL 50 STATES

From the creator of one of the 1990s’ best ’zines, a debut memoir chronicling his mission to wash dishes in each of the 50 states.

A San Francisco kid who spent his youth getting in trouble with cops, the author found that he liked wandering around the country much better than attending college or maintaining any sort of steady work. Dishwashing, he discovered, was the holy grail of itinerant employment. Being a “suds buster,” as Jordan memorably dubs it, isn’t exactly high in prestige—he quotes an opinion survey that ranked dishwashing #735 in status out of 740 jobs—but there are always openings and few expectations, since most dishwashers last no more than a few weeks at a time. The profession’s traditions include “laziness, drunkenness and ditching jobs without even a minute’s notice”—and you have to quit, since it’s basically impossible to get fired. Jordan was in Alaska when he got the notion to wash dishes nationwide and create “a little dishwashing publication” as well; a knowledgeable subs-busting buddy explained what a ’zine was and handed him a copy of Down and Out in Paris and London. Inspired by Orwell’s memorable delineation of the plongeur ethos, Jordan photocopied Dishwasher #1 in Arizona, put out a second issue in Texas and managed to squeeze out 13 more over a dozen years of hitchhiking, bumming rides from friends, crashing on people’s couches and getting dumped by girlfriends. (A postscript tells those who ordered #16 to get in touch, and he’ll make good.) Among his most challenging gigs: an isolated post on an oil rig and an attempt to disprove the received wisdom that a white guy couldn’t get hired in New Orleans, where all the suds busters were black or Mexican.

Enjoyable manifesto celebrating rootless irresponsibility, with rueful acknowledgement of the pitfalls therein.

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-089642-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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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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