Practical but dispiriting social spadework.



Washington Flyer contributing editor and “clueless romantic” Machacek spends a year looking for true love.

After a fizzled long-distance relationship followed by miserable blind dates, the frustrated 33-year-old became proactive, beginning a 12-month “experiment” using a variety of matchmaking outlets to find her Mr. Right. The opening statistics are discouraging—a 2005 survey of Internet users: “55% of singles reported no active interest in seeking a romantic partner”—yet Machacek plodded on, posting profiles on sites like, eHarmony, IJL (“It’s Just Lunch”) and The Onion Personals. The expectations were lofty, but the in-person dates disappointed in both looks and personality as much as the rapid-fire exchanges at speed dating and the four weeks of blind dating, which failed to turn up anyone with which the author shared romantic chemistry. Machacek appealed to family, friends and co-workers for support, especially sage gay pal Kenneth, who’s “equal parts crotchety old man and charming queen.” With one service charging more than $1,000, the author learned the costly side of romance alongside the quagmires of dating outside her area code and coming clean to potential love interests about her experiment. Whether these men failed to entice her due to “stylistic blunders,” lack of physical attraction or spark, the author repeatedly found herself “caught in a melee of not-quite-rights.” Some of the calamity is humorous, and there’s fun to be had in the chase itself, but her “superficial judgments” on the parade of men who abruptly came and went eventually doomed her serial dating project. To her credit, the author acquiesces to hard-won personal revelations about her shallowness and sabotaging tendencies to prejudge others. Machacek’s most rational conclusion, however, concerns her refusal to settle for less—to “not choose anyone in order to keep myself open to someone who is right for me.”

Practical but dispiriting social spadework.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59448-496-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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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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