The restaurant critic of the New York Times whips up a savory memoir of her apprentice years. Growing up in New York City and Connecticut during the 1950s, Reichl learned early ``that food could be dangerous.'' Her manic-depressive mother favored weird mÇlanges crafted from culinary bargains of dubious freshness; throwing an engagement party for Reichl's half-brother, Mom served spoiled leftovers from Horn and Hardart that sent 26 people to the hospital. Reichl enjoyed safer food elsewhere: at her Aunt Birdie's, the apple dumplings of an African-American cook; at the home of a wealthy classmate from her Montreal boarding school, classic French cuisine. The descriptions of each sublime taste are mouthwateringly precise, and the recipes scattered throughout nicely reflect the author's personal odyssey. After a disorderly adolescence, she attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The education of her taste buds continued during trips to North Africa and Europe, a waitressing stint at a doomed French restaurant in Michigan, and impoverished early married life on New York's Lower East Side. In Berkeley, Calif., she worked at a collectively owned restaurant whose entire staff cooked, cleaned, and served such vintage '70s dishes as quiche and Indonesian fishball soup. Reichl describes these experiences with infectious humor, then achieves a deeper level of emotion and maturity when her story reaches the year 1977. That summer, she returned to New York and for the first time successfully rescued one of her mother's manic party efforts. In the fall, she became restaurant critic for a San Francisco magazine and found the voices of various people who had taught her about food echoing in her ears as she discovered the work her editor told her ``you were born to do.'' The book closes with a moving scene in which Reichl eats a sumptuous lunch with two women as forceful and resilient as she has finally become. A perfectly balanced stew of memories: not too sweet, not too tart. (First printing of 40,000; author tour)

Pub Date: March 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-679-44987-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1998


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


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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