A startling portrayal of life at the frayed edges of the American Dream—of drag shows, transvestite hustlers, teenage hookers, flophouses—and murder most foul. Free-lance writer Bentley centers his narrative on Leslie Douglas Ashley, a flamboyant drag performer who in the early 80's fled Houston for Manhattan. Failing to make it in the Gotham clubs, Ashley, still in drag, took to the streets as a prostitute. Returning to Texas, he encountered Carolyn Ann Lima, a slightly retarded 17-year-old hooker. The two joined forces, servicing clients from schoolboys to traveling salesmen. One of the pair's johns was a local real-estate agent who—according to their later testimony—became threatening during an assignation. Lima pumped six rounds into the man, then helped Ashley drag the body to a nearby vacant lot, where they set it on fire. Taking their victim's car, the two set out for Manhattan, pausing briefly in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Picked up in N.Y.C. on a minor charge, Ashley and Lima were returned to Texas on murder charges. Ashley was condemned to death, despite an insanity defense; Lima plea- bargained and received time. During an appeal, it became clear that the prosecution had withheld evidence regarding Ashley's mental condition, and, after a new sanity hearing, the transvestite was put in a mental institution. Ashley was eventually pardoned; today, after a sex-change operation, she's politically active as a spokesperson for ACT UP—although Bentley indicates that her abrasive personality goes unappreciated even by that organization. An engrossing look at a shadowy area of American life—and the dark underbelly of the Reagan years. (Eight pages of photographs)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1993

ISBN: 1-55972-180-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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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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