A vibrant story of late-blooming love.

LADY OF THE CARDS

A MEMOIR IN THE FORM OF A NOVEL

A platonic midlife romance strikes creative sparks in this winsome roman á clef.

Fanto, a publisher and artist, knew Richard Ellmann, acclaimed biographer of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, for several years before his death in 1987; the two had collaborated on the creation of a line of arty Wilde-themed playing cards. In Fanto’s fictionalized version of their relationship, they are also soul mates. Nearing 70, Dick Ellmann is a rumpled, warmhearted American scholar, devoted to caring for his invalid wife Mary. Rosita, radiating in all directions from her home in Monte Carlo, is a middle-aged jet-setter who can’t eat dinner in Manhattan without Andy Warhol dropping by her table. But she’s also smart, spontaneous and a devotee of the “l’acte gratuit,” the hidden gesture of uncompensated kindness. (She meets Dick while helping a friend auction off some Joyce letters.) A professional connoisseur of fascinating lives, Dick savors Rosita’s colorful stories of growing up in a wealthy Rumanian family, wartime exile in Brazil, a brother’s assassination and her adventurous encounters with the rich and famous, from Salvador Dali to Orson Welles. In turn, Dick shares his subtle insights into the psyches and geniuses of writers and poets. Their affection grows but is stymied by Dick’s dutifulness toward Mary. It sustains itself on sporadic intercontinental visits, longing letters and hesitant glances full of unspoken desire. A consummation of a kind occurs when Rosita proposes the playing-card project to complement Dick’s soon-to-be-completed Wilde biography, but the aesthetic and intellectual glow of their collaboration darkens as Dick slowly succumbs to Lou Gehrig’s disease. Fanto fills the narrative with risqué witticisms and piquant sketches of the glitterati, but her breezy, stylish prose still conveys the passion and pathos of an attraction that seems all the more intense for being so tightly constrained.

A vibrant story of late-blooming love.

Pub Date: April 30, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4500-6049-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2010

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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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