SLEEPING WHERE I FALL

This autobiographical look at 1960s hippie culture from the point of view of actor Coyote (E.T., Outrageous Fortune, etc.) tends more toward observation than introspection. Coyote began his sojourn in the counterculture with the San Francisco Mime Troupe—a ground-breaking experiment in political theater that led almost immediately to Coyote’s long-standing association with the strongly antiestablishment Digger group, which preached a sort of Emersonian self-reliance based on the philosophical freedoms of mankind—which included the freedom, for instance, to steal what you think is yours. Coyote wandered from commune to commune, all the while crossing paths with the famous and soon-to-be-famous, including music promoter Bill Graham, the musician Michael Bloomfield, and the Beat poet Gary Snyder. In the meantime, he also made the acquaintance of several members of the notorious Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang, and these connections and other societal pressures led Coyote into a heroin habit that was —cured— only after he was treated by an Indian shaman. Still, after this —cure— Coyote continues to abuse drugs. Because he never does fully address the matter of his drug dependence, or his complex relationship with Sam, his lover and the mother of his daughter, the book never seems to have much heft as a self-excavation. It’s really only Coyote’s troubled relationship with his abusive but brilliant father that gets the attention from the author that it requires. Equally disturbing and unexamined are Coyote’s friendships with the openly racist Hell’s Angels, as well as the frequent appearance of guns in what many might assume had been a peaceful subculture. (A part of this book, under the title —Carla’s Story,— won the 1994 Pushcart Prize for nonfiction.)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-887178-67-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

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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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