With compassion and profundity of vision, Rodriguez offers a compelling view of modern spirituality that is as multifaceted...

DARLING

A SPIRITUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY

An acclaimed gay intellectual and journalist’s musings on the state of and interrelationship among Christianity, Judaism and Islam in the post-9/11 digital age.

In this collection of essays, Rodriguez stylishly delves into the meaning of life, death, sexuality and the printed word in the 21st century by examining his own Christian faith. The events of 9/11 awakened him to the fact that the God he worshipped as a Catholic was “the same desert God [to which] the terrorists prayed.” He went to Jerusalem to experience the “ecology” of the place that gave rise to not only Christianity, but also Judaism and Islam. In the emptiness of the desert, the printed word came to have sacred status for all three religions. What partially distinguished them were notions of paradise. “For Jews,” he writes, “Eden was pre-desert [and] [f]or Christians and Muslims, paradise…[was] post-desert.” Rodriguez transforms his insights into lenses through which he views not only himself and the gay community to which he belongs, but also American culture. A friend’s Easter Sunday death from AIDS in the Las Vegas desert becomes an occasion to ponder the campy neon paradise the city represents. A beloved female friend he refers to only as “Darling” becomes the focal point for witty meditations on how Rodriguez’s own place as a homosexual in both the church and society depends on female empowerment, or lack thereof. The death of newspapers becomes a way for the author to reflect on the rise of technology. In this new “enlarging, unstable [and] ethereal” world, the former weightiness of words has been replaced by a disturbing relativism. Like newspapers, sacred texts such as the Bible, Torah and Quran become little more than objects stripped of meaning.

With compassion and profundity of vision, Rodriguez offers a compelling view of modern spirituality that is as multifaceted as it is provocative.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-670-02530-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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