Unlike other, neater narratives of being lost and found, Connors’ story—told with harrowing insight and fierce prose—is...

ALL THE WRONG PLACES

A LIFE LOST AND FOUND

Connors (Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout, 2012) reflects candidly on the years he spent unmoored after a family tragedy; he continuously found himself in places he felt apart from.

“A natty socialist at the Wall Street Journal. A white guy in a black neighborhood. Strange how comfortable my discomfort became,” writes the author, who, at the age of 23, after the shocking death of his brother, turned completely inward, “a man shrouded in almost total self-regard." As Connors struggled to find a place for his pain where it wouldn’t devour him, he stumbled into a career in journalism, even after he convinced himself he had given up on the business. “But the fact was I’d borrowed twenty-five grand to pay for an education in print journalism,” he writes, “so I had little choice but to pursue a career in print journalism.” At his desk in the Leisure & Arts section of the WSJ, surrounded by conservative editorial writers, Connors proudly displayed his left-wing politics by hanging posters of Emma Goldman and Ralph Nader. He had passionate, failed affairs and emotionally charged encounters with his neighbors as one of the only white faces in his Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Connors' missing sense of purpose is keenly felt through passages that combine lyricism with dark humor to draw lines between grief and the uncanny. His search toward understanding his brother's death—which included studying graphic images from the autopsy report and reaching out to his brother’s ex-girlfriends—ultimately ends in a place of belonging. But the redemptive ending of this story, which Connors smartly does not dwell on, is far less compelling than the unique and brutally raw accounts of his search for connection.

Unlike other, neater narratives of being lost and found, Connors’ story—told with harrowing insight and fierce prose—is messy and incomplete and makes no apologies for being anything but.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0393088762

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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