A minor but well-crafted work, and an all-too-rare glimpse of daily life in rural America.

DRAGGING WYATT EARP

An affecting memoir of life in small-town Kansas.

Wyatt Earp’s old haunt is still haunted by him, or at least some version of him, the heroic lawmaker that brings in tourists. Rebein (Hicks, Tribes, and Dirty Realists: American Fiction after Postmodernism, 2001) will have none of that: His Earp is “the greatest bouncer the West ever knew,” a man skilled at rolling drunk cowboys and shaking down former Confederate soldiers. More than that, Earp lends his name to a strip of asphalt that runs through the heart of Dodge City, where drag racing and beer drinking formed the heart of Saturday night. Rebein’s upbringing was eccentric but not particularly hard, by his account. His father was the master of the add-on and the remodeling project, but was otherwise fairly normal, though with twists. The owner of scrap heaps and habitué of body shops and other places where metal was king, he had a penchant for accumulating junkyard dogs, “all of them troubled in some way, unmanageable by anyone but him.” For a young Rebein, the world of wrecked cars became a wonderland, and he writes lyrically of the things that turned up in them, from porn to lighters to photographs to ammunition. Elsewhere, he deconstructs aspects of small-town life on the Western plains, including the rodeo, which as a teenager he shunned as yet one more thing that spelled hick-dom but for which he has an older fellow’s appreciation, and the casino, which has become a mainstay of Dodge City—and even more of a draw than the legend of Wyatt Earp.

A minor but well-crafted work, and an all-too-rare glimpse of daily life in rural America.

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8040-1142-6

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Swallow Press/Ohio Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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