If the rest of this book had the panache of its closing pages, Rowan might almost have atoned for his years of deceit.

NEVER SAY GOODBYE

An affectedly “literary” confession and apology from a notorious plagiarizer.

As Q.R. Markham, Rowan made a splash in the fall of 2011 with the publication of his spy novel Assassin of Secrets, the first of a proposed series. He made a bigger splash when the publisher withdrew the book after its first weekend of sales upon finding it had been constructed almost entirely of bits and pieces from a dozen or more already published spy novels by the likes of John Gardner and Robert Ludlum, to name only the best known. Rowan was instantly pilloried, particularly on the Internet, where he was showered with poisonous barbs and death threats. Online sleuths quickly uncovered more plagiarism in his past, including a short story partly lifted from Graham Greene that appeared under Rowan’s name in Partisan Review in 2002. Why did he do it? Unsurprisingly, Rowan blames an overwhelming desire for fame, fortune and the respect of friends and family combined with lack of confidence in his own abilities to acquire all the above. “I did at one point have a voice,” Rowan laments, suggesting that his thievery was a way to borrow others’ voices when his went missing. Trying to retrieve it here, he often sounds like a self-conscious imitation of David Foster Wallace, with dashes of Kurt Vonnegut, Martin Amis and James Joyce thrown in willy-nilly. A former girlfriend summed up nicely the problem with Rowan’s style, calling it “show-offy and geared to impress by overwhelming the reader.” She suggested he aim for “writing that tries to communicate rather than obscure.” The author finally pulls that off in the final chapter, a straightforward account of the unfolding of the Assassin affair that, like the best crime writing, is almost unbearably suspenseful.

If the rest of this book had the panache of its closing pages, Rowan might almost have atoned for his years of deceit.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-891241-58-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: YETI/Verse Chorus

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 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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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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