A confused and overstuffed tale of psychological illness and recovery.



A young man’s traumatic failures in love drive him to madness in this debut book.

As a child, Tom was a favorite target of bullies—fearful and submissive, as well as set apart by social awkwardness. It didn’t help that his parents had a wildly tumultuous relationship that ended in an acrimonious divorce, or that his older sister dismissively rejected him in favor of her cooler friends. And like any adolescent boy, Tom is drawn romantically to his co-ed contemporaries but also chronically spurned, leaving him “maladjusted, alienated, lonely, depressed, and suffering from low self-esteem.” He attends the University of Maine and falls in love with Lisa, but she doesn’t return his affections, and clearly only keeps him around to cruelly bolster her own sense of self-worth. Now dejected from a lack of social success, he opts to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in Arizona; there he meets another girl—Mary—and falls madly in love with her. When she too fails to reciprocate his affections, he starts to lose his grip on reality, battered from yet another bout of rejection, and eventually seeks the counsel of anyone willing to help—his professor, a therapist, and a hypnotist are among those to whom he turns. Tom overdoses on anti-psychotic medication and lands in a psychiatric institution, grappling with his festering obsession over a girl he hardly dated and barely knew. Doran intends this to be a thinly fictionalized memoir written in the third person of his own scramble for mental peace. The descriptions of Tom’s afflictions are insistently clinical—the book begins and ends with notes from the author’s former therapist, explaining, in the driest academic language imaginable, the psychological import of the story. Doran also repeatedly describes Tom’s plight in diagnostic language, apparently anxious that readers might draw their own conclusions. In addition, the prose at times hyperventilates. For example, Tom anguishes over a girl’s attention: “She is gazing at me. The angel is gazing at me. She’s gazing. Gazing! She’s gazing at me. What does it mean? What could it mean? Do I dare hope?Of course, Tom’s (and the author’s) victory over mental illness remains unfathomably inspiring, but there’s more to readable fiction than inspiration.

A confused and overstuffed tale of psychological illness and recovery.

Pub Date: May 7, 2012


Page Count: 527

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2017

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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 19, 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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