A thoroughly entertaining and affecting remembrance.

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A man recounts the depths of addiction and the miracles of recovery in this debut memoir.

“I had my first drink at the age of six.” So begins Preston’s account of his long descent into alcoholism and drug dependency. From this first taste of a partially consumed glass of whiskey at a family Christmas party in 1970, Preston was immediately hooked: “It opened my eyes in a way they had never been opened.” The book describes the curious coming-of-age moments in the life of a young addict: buying Champale from a diner as a junior high school student, imitating singer Barry White’s deep voice in order to pass for an adult; smoking marijuana and drinking malt liquor while waiting for the school bus; and getting an A on a test during his first semester of college while using cocaine, then failing out two semesters later—while using more cocaine. Preston later got a job at an insurance company, had a daughter out of wedlock, discovered crack cocaine, and got arrested. The author encountered the very worst that addiction had to offer during a decadeslong struggle that saw him in and out of jobs, relationships, prison, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers, and involved in all manner of scams. Eventually, he says, he became a person that he could no longer recognize, love, or respect. Despite this, he managed to clean up his life, find peace, and live to tell the tale. Preston is a talented storyteller and a fine writer with an endearing sense of humor and a great memory for detail. The way he writes about drugs, in particular, is compelling—and interestingly, he writes about popular music in much the same way. For instance, he describes the work of the funk-rock band Parliament-Funkadelic thusly: “This stuff was raw like sushi and I craved it more and more.” The author manages to accomplish the difficult task of writing about addiction in a lively way, and despite the fact that he confesses to legitimately horrible things, he manages to keep readers on his side. Preston crafts a sympathetic, honest, and satisfying tale of despair and redemption.

A thoroughly entertaining and affecting remembrance.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9977906-0-3

Page Count: 264

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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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