A moving and honest account by American Book Award-winning novelist Dew of what she learned when her oldest son came out. Dew (Fortunate Lives, 1992, etc.) perceptively describes how, after finding out that one son was gay, the straight members of her family overcame confusion and grief, eventually arriving at an understanding far beyond tolerance. Like much of the memoir, Dew's evocation of the ``elongated moment'' in which she learned that her son Steve was gay demonstrates her gift for describing the details of unease: ``Steve seemed lost in his own house.... His expression was precisely the curious gaze of assessment he had cast my way thirty minutes after he was born.'' The frankness with which she remembers her own awkwardness, even her most excruciating mistakes, is also admirable and goes far to mitigate the whiff of smug self- congratulation that sometimes creeps into the book. The Family Heart is at its best when Dew is relating her internal monologues. In characterizing her initial grief, for example, she singles out her assumption that Steve won't have children; her fear that if her children never become parents, they will never understand how much she loves them; and her worry that ``if either of my sons didn't have children, how would he ever be able to forgive my failures?'' Dew's use of place is less inspiring. In particular, though her ability to capture the details of her physical environment is masterful, she uses weather as a metaphor for emotion so often that it quickly becomes a predictable and tiresome device. Despite stylistic lapses and a few bursts of preachiness, a reflective exploration of a mother's struggle with her attitudes toward homosexuality and a family's negotiation of difference.

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-201-62450-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1994

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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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