A raw, emotionally intense memoir.



A poet and American Book Award–winning memoirist tells the story of his troubled family and the sustaining relationship he shared with his brother.

González (English/Rutgers Univ., Newark; Pivotal Voices, Era of Transition: Toward a 21st Century Poetics, 2017, etc.) and his family left Mexico for the Coachella Valley when he and his younger brother, Alex, were still children. But the better life they sought across the border in the United States did not materialize. Crammed into a tiny house, 19 family members attempted to make the best of difficult circumstances that included hunger, poverty, and abuse at the hands of a cruel and controlling grandfather. By the time González reached adolescence, he and Alex faced other traumas: the death of their beloved mother and desertion by their father, who relocated back to Mexico without them. The losses impacted each brother deeply: the author “withdrew into a depression that [his] family members called shyness,” and Alex began to spend time with high school dropouts who did little else but smoke and drink. At the same time, loss helped forge the fierce bond that helped both survive loneliness and hardship. Their paths diverged when González became the first member of his family to go to college while Alex returned to Mexico to live with their father. But even as the author immersed himself in his work, his emerging gay identity, and a career as a writer and teacher in New York City, he still maintained a close connection to his brother. That bond became their salvation when each brother faced midlife challenges rooted in the early experiences that had stripped them of parental love and positive role models. For González, those challenges involved alcoholism and unconsciously seeking out abusive relationships; for his brother, they involved coming to terms with what it meant to be a good husband and father. Generous and intimate, González’s memoir offers a riveting account of the bond that saved two brothers from their tortured past while offering lucid glimpses into the meaning of Latino manhood.

A raw, emotionally intense memoir.

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-299-31690-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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 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...


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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