A sobering look at the ugly side of rockin’ and rollin’ all night.

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MAKEUP TO BREAKUP

MY LIFE IN AND OUT OF KISS

Catman Criss recounts his nine lives of decadence, depravity and dissolution in and out of the rock band KISS.

At the outset of this sleaze-fueled memoir, we see the author half-zonked on the floor following an earthquake with the barrel of a gun stuck halfway down his throat. And then things started getting ugly. KISS’ larger than life comic-book personas and hook-laden anthems may have dazzled teenagers in the ’70s, but behind the garish face paint and superhero costumes loomed a lot of deeply disturbing darkness. Criss’ own life growing up hard on the streets of Brooklyn was no cakewalk. As the drummer describes it here, those times were often both violent and depressing. Struggling hard to shake off the streets, the increasingly desperate-to-make-it musician eventually fell in with a couple of other New York City knuckleheads with the idea of becoming superstars. To say that Criss still maintains huge reservoirs of hatred toward former band mates Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley is a colossal understatement. Simmons and Stanley—who, according to the author, cheated, degraded and maligned him in the most remarkable ways even years after he left the group—are portrayed as two of the most repugnant, self-absorbed characters to ever step onto a concert stage. Sadly, it’s hard to generate too much sympathy for Criss himself, due to his own well-documented deficiencies. By his own account, he’s been a belligerent, self-centered misogynist addicted to clichéd rock excess for most of his life. But the larger, and more moving, story is one of redemption and of a deeply flawed individual endeavoring to become a better man. Astonishingly, by the end of this sordid tale, Criss largely succeeds.

A sobering look at the ugly side of rockin’ and rollin’ all night.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-2082-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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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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