Reads like a novel and lingers in the mind.

ALL THE FISHES COME HOME TO ROOST

AN AMERICAN MISFIT IN INDIA

As soon as your parents mention that they want to move to an ashram in India, dip into this memoir of the spiritual life’s dark side.

Born in the early ’70s, Brown was raised in Los Angeles by parents still under the sway of master Meher Baba, though he had died in 1969. In 1980, they decided to relocate the family to his birthplace, Ahmednagar, to commune more closely with his spirit and with those who had experienced him directly. As a child, Rachel was thrust into a surreal life and experienced alienation writ large. Some members of the ashram spoke a perplexing language all their own: “Are you my mummy?” asked a 60-year-old member named Coconut of seven-year-old Brown. When she had no satisfactory response, Coconut offered that they were living in “the Kaliyuga Age” and that “anything can happen.” Now a playwright, television author and comic writer, Brown here recounts her youthful trials: She was endlessly taunted by her schoolmates, beaten by her teachers, bored by the supplications to Baba. But she remains open minded: “We all have mental magnets for obsession, waiting to encounter an idea or person or practice of the opposite charge,” she concludes. “I can understand the fascination, even if I can’t understand its object.” Along the way, she renders a well-hewed look at Ahmednagar: its free-ranging water buffalo and holy cows; its reeking sewage; its experts in removing ear wax; its vendors of “cones of powder in crimson, saffron, orange, purple, hot pink, forest green, and indigo” for women to dab on their foreheads. In short, “Ahmednagar was overwhelming and beyond analysis, like a new primary color.”

Reads like a novel and lingers in the mind.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-59486-139-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Rodale

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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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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