A fond view of a father-son relationship and a loving tribute from a minister to a son who chose a different spiritual path...

STATIONS OF THE HEART

PARTING WITH A SON

A father’s deeply felt memoir of witnessing his son’s final months and grieving at the young man’s death.

In April 2005, Lischer (The End of Words: The Language of Reconciliation in a Culture of Violence, 2005, etc.), a Lutheran minister and faculty member at Duke Divinity School, received a phone call from his 33-year-old son Adam telling him that his melanoma had returned. What the author did not know was that in little more than three months, Adam would be dead. Stories of battling cancer are commonplace, as are stories of bereavement; what gives this story a twist is the religious angle. When Lischer’s son learned of his diagnosis, he became more heavily involved in the Catholic Church. He and his pregnant Catholic wife adopted a series of daily rituals that involved lighting candles, attending Mass, praying and reading the Bible. As his son’s faith was increasing, Lischer’s was drying up: “I saw my son…motionless, serene as a sanded statue, and lost in a realm I could not enter.” The author compares his experiences with his dying son to walking the Stations of the Cross, but here the reminders of pain are more mundane—visits to labs, meetings with oncologists, etc. By June, Lischer was searching for a cemetery, and in July, he was camping out in his son’s hospital room listening for his last breath. After Adam’s death, the author came to see grief as a series of dark caves of longing and despair that one repeatedly falls into, not unlike the anguish of a parent watching over a terminally ill child. The book ends on a somewhat brighter note with the baptism of Adam’s daughter.

A fond view of a father-son relationship and a loving tribute from a minister to a son who chose a different spiritual path in his life and to his death.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-96053-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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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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