This contrived memoir might have been a mildly entertaining blog or magazine article. For adult women without a single...

MWF SEEKING BFF

MY YEARLONG SEARCH FOR A NEW BEST FRIEND

Tiresome chronicle of the author’s 52 friend dates in one year, and the psychology of friendship.

Once the golden glow of a new marriage settled into a daily routine, Bertsche realized she needed more than the constant love and attention of her husband. “But when I need to talk my feelings to death,” she writes, “really sit and analyze why I am confused/lonely/ecstatic, he’s just not up to it.” Additionally, “in your late twenties, friend-making is not the natural process is used to be. In fact, as it turns out, I’ve completely forgotten how to do it.” Stringing together her encounters with potential friends, Bertsche drops in snippets of scientific research concerning the nature of friendship along with anything else she thinks is relevant, including breast cancer, depression and her interviews with professionals regarding her friend quest. Along the way, the author experimented with online friending sites and experienced book clubs, a wellness cleanse at her yoga studio and a flash mob in her dance school. When she heard about a local friend matchmaker service, she signed up. “If I were more narcissistic,” she writes, “I’d think the local Chicago area was learning about my search and creating companies just for me.” Ultimately, her search succeeded. She was a better friend. She was more adventurous, independent and less naïve about the “idea of the attached-at-the-hip BFF.” She adhered to conventional rules of etiquette (many of which are generally learned in grade school), such as not interrupting others when they are speaking. Essentially, she became a happier, nicer version of herself.

This contrived memoir might have been a mildly entertaining blog or magazine article. For adult women without a single friend, maybe some of this recycled information will help.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-345-52494-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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