A warmhearted testimony of gratitude and humility.

THE STORY I AM

MAD ABOUT THE WRITING LIFE

A prolific writer reflects on his commitment to his craft.

Essayist, novelist, playwright, and English professor Rosenblatt gathers a sampling from his 40-year writing career that reveals the “exhilaration and exasperation” of the work that has long engaged him: “I write simply because I am enthralled with the writer’s life, mad for it, and with the act of writing.” Among the pieces are excerpts—some as short as a paragraph—from longer works, such as his memoirs Kayak Morning (“Writing makes sorrow endurable, evil intelligible, justice desirable, and love possible”), The Boy Detective, Making Toast, and the unpublished Unaccompanied Minor; his mock instruction book Rules for Aging (nobody is “denigrating your work behind your back,” he promises); essays from previous collections, such as Anything Can Happen; pieces that appeared in newspapers and literary journals; and selections from published and unpublished novels and plays. One essay specifically on craft comes from his writing companion Unless It Moves the Human Heart, but not all pieces concern writing directly. Rosenblatt discloses, for example, his mother’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease; praises a teacher from whom he learned to “look at the world with wonder and pleasure”; and describes an image, recalled from childhood, of seeing a young woman weeping on stone steps in Columbus Circle. Even though he knows that using a word processor would make life easier for his publishers, he prefers to compose on a yellow legal notepad and transcribe his work on an electric typewriter. “Editors never question why they must put my materials into the system for me,” he writes. “They have simply found it expedient to adapt to my strangeness, mainly because I have never indicated that I would adapt to them.” Appreciative of sound and cadence, Rosenblatt has always been nourished by poets. Sometimes nostalgic, even sad, he regrets that although he has not “eradicated world poverty” or “put an end to injustice, or even to casual cruelty,” he has given the world a singular bequest: love.

A warmhearted testimony of gratitude and humility.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-885983-78-7

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Turtle Point

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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