PRYOR CONVICTIONS

AND OTHER LIFE SENTENCES

Pryor reflects on a life of humor and hard living altered forever by the recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Pryor has always been a fearless black man. His foul language, his willingness to address race and racism directly and intimately revolutionized comedy in the '60s and '70s and made way for comedians such as Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, and Joe Torry. But as Pryor explains here, aided by Gold of People magazine, he never equated people's laughing at his jokes with their liking him. His cocaine addiction and the escapades that addiction prompted led him on a wild road that some, like comic John Belushi, didn't survive. His addiction to women was equally as destructive. As he recounts in the book, he was married six times, twice to the same woman, with countless affairs in between. He recognized himself as ``the dark comic genius, the Bard of Self Destruction'' and calls MS ``the light'' that transforms his life, making him slow down and stop using drugs. What is so painful to read here is the way our culture's obsession with celebrity distances those who become famous from the honesty and love they once had. When Pryor had a heart attack scare, he says, ``My family worried themselves sick. They were probably closer to death than I was. They saw their money supply gasping for air, moaning and writhing in pain.'' It is even more shocking to read that his doctors offered all sorts of explanations for his heart troubles, but never once mentioned his cocaine addiction. They simply told him to take it easy. Pryor's analysis of Hollywood's reaction to him is similarly insightful. After the massive box-office success of his movie Richard Pryor: Live In Concert, he says that Hollywood rediscovered him. He wasn't black. He wasn't white. He was green. There are no big surprises here, this is not a celebrity tell- all. This is a powerful autobiography of a talented man who made every effort to ruin his body and his career and lived to tell the tale. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 30, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-43250-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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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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