The conclusions reached are familiar, but Schaap’s talent for balancing self-revelation with humor, melancholy and wisdom...

DRINKING WITH MEN

A MEMOIR

A memoir from This American Life contributor and New York Times Magazine “Drink” columnist Schaap.

The author extolls the pleasures of “bar regularhood,” focusing on those establishments with distinct atmospheres—sometimes evoking European cafe societies, other times fondly portraying out-of-the-way places with colorful owners—to demonstrate how they can serve as “relief from isolation,” a “refuge from the too-deep and too-personal,” and a means for broadening one’s ability to listen and empathize with others. Schaap briefly acknowledges the negative aspects, especially for women who frequent bars alone, but she paints a mostly romantic portrait of discovering friendship and conviviality that is gradually tempered over time. Each chapter recounts her experiences in a particular bar—often in New York, with excursions to Dublin as well as Montreal—as touchstones that allow her to explore major turning points, from being a teenager who dropped out of high school and became a Deadhead to becoming a student at Bennington College, finding love, working as a chaplain in the aftermath of 9/11, as well as her father’s death, separation and bartending in the present. Schaap suggests that early trials served as catalysts for seeking company away from home, though she admits that the need for regularhood lessened with age. The author only briefly touches on alcoholism, one possible explanation for the hundreds of hours spent in bars; what remains is a brisk, lucid account of finding a tenuous peace after a period of escapism.

The conclusions reached are familiar, but Schaap’s talent for balancing self-revelation with humor, melancholy and wisdom turn an otherwise niche topic into one with greater appeal.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59448-711-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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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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