Emotionally complex and genuinely affecting.

THE LITTLE WAY OF RUTHIE LEMING

A SOUTHERN GIRL, A SMALL TOWN, AND THE SECRET OF A GOOD LIFE

A Louisiana-born journalist's memoir of how he came to terms with questions of personal belonging that accompanied his "country mouse" sister's tragically premature death.

Dreher (Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Roots, 2006) was a restless dreamer who never quite went along with "the intolerance, the social conformity [and] the cliquishness" that characterized the rural Southern world into which he was born. His pretty and popular sister Ruthie, however, loved their hometown of St. Francisville and knew that everything she ever wanted in life was "in front of her." When Dreher received his first major career break away from home, he took the job. Ruthie, on the other hand, married and became a schoolteacher who took special interest in children from troubled homes. After the birth of Ruthie's first child in 1993, Dreher felt the unexpected tug of home. His hopes of reintegrating into his family and making peace with his father were soon dashed, and he returned to his peripatetic life as a journalist in 1994. Then, in 2010, he discovered that Ruthie was dying of cancer and returned to St. Francisville with his wife and sons. The outpouring of love and support he saw from the townspeople for his sister made him wonder once again if he had made the right choice to leave. But as he re-engaged with the dying Ruthie and her family, he also saw that his ambitions had stirred deep resentment in the people he loved most. Moved by his sister's courageous battle and the stories of how Ruthie's everyday acts of love had changed the lives of others, Dreher began the difficult process of humbly accepting "the limitations of place" to finally know "the joys that [could] also be found there."

Emotionally complex and genuinely affecting.

Pub Date: April 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1455521913

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 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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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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