A subtle, careful testament to devotion and a son’s love for his parents.

BETWEEN THEM

REMEMBERING MY PARENTS

The Pulitzer Prize–winning fiction writer tells what he knows of the marriage of his loving parents—and what he can never know, as the only child who came between them.

This is a memoir that seems to have been written more for Ford (Let Me Be Frank with You, 2014, etc.) than for his readers, and it reveals as much about the writer as it does about his parents. Neither of these observations implies fault, only that the renowned novelist recognizes how the selection of detail and the limitations of memory inform a narrative and how the writer’s craft inevitably makes the results as much about the writer (and his craft) as his subject. By any standards, this is a singular volume, as peculiarly personal as it is slim. There are two sections, one devoted to each parent: “Gone: Remembering My Father” and “My Mother, In Memory.” The second was written three decades before the first, shortly after his mother’s death. Ford’s father had died much earlier, leaving his mother alone in the world to raise the son she loved, but not in the way she had loved his father. “He was her protector, but she was his,” writes the author. “If it meant that I was further from the middle of things, I have lived my entire life thinking this is the proper way to be a family.” There is some duplication in the material, the few incidents that seemed so significant in the life of each of his parents, recollected separately across a gap of three decades. There is also conjecture, as Ford imagines the lives of each before they met each other—and their life together before they had the child who would change everything. “For all this to be a blissful life,” writes the author, “love is certainly required, and a willingness—on my part—to fill some things in and deflect others.”

A subtle, careful testament to devotion and a son’s love for his parents.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-266188-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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