A promising yet excessively sparse publishing debut.



A chef and food writer debuts with a lean memoir that revisits seminal moments from her past through tightly composed vignettes.

Beginning with her arrival in New York City from the West Coast as a young dance student at Juilliard, we follow Grant’s struggles with demanding instructors and insecurities about her weight as well as attempts to establish her identity in the city. Parallel moments reflect on her mother’s and grandmother’s lives. Under their influence, Grant acquired an appreciation for cooking and good food, which inspired her shift from dancing to becoming a self-trained professional chef. She cooked her way through notable cookbooks such as Julia Child’s The Way To Cook and volunteered at a French bakery, eventually landing in the kitchens of top-notch restaurants in the city. Grant is particularly adept at packing a lot of emotion and detail into a few brief lines, as in her summary of her early apprenticeship: “Six months in and I have experienced the obscenely long hours and witnessed the fire hazards, rampant drug use, and misogynistic everything. I have also learned that I am allergic to flour when it’s in the air, which is constant in the pastry room. I sneeze a lot. I still want this more than ever.” Following 9/11, the newly married author moved back to the West Coast. In rapid succession, we follow her through two difficult pregnancies and excruciating childbirths as well as post-partum depression. However, by the end, we’ve gleaned little about the important individuals in her life. Her husband, actor/director Matt Ross, is referenced only as “M,” present throughout but peripheral to her story. In the last section, Grant offers a selection of favorite recipes, weaving in personal memories and confident advice and further confirming her talent as a food writer. Ultimately, her memoir, composed of brief paragraphs and chapters within ample white space, serves to showcase her writing style and inventive skills in the kitchen. While she fearlessly lays bare many of her personal experiences, the end result feels somewhat insubstantial.

A promising yet excessively sparse publishing debut.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-15014-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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 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...


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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