A harrowing and engrossing account of a young woman’s difficult journey.

BLIND PONY

AS TRUE A STORY AS I CAN TELL

A debut memoir tells the story of a teenager trying to escape a life of exploitation and find herself.

Hart’s troubles started when she was 5 years old. Her mother had left her husband, taking her five daughters to live on her parents’ farm in rural Pennsylvania. According to Hart, her grandfather sexually abused her repeatedly, trying to hide the horrific deeds from the rest of the family. He was caught in the act by the author’s mother, who ignored it. Hart decided she would have to fend for herself and headed to Arizona to live with her father, “Wild Bill,” whom she had idealized in his absence. But he had started a new family, and Hart would not be a part of it. The cycle of abuse continued as she fled Arizona for Los Angeles after a pimp tried to recruit her. She found herself hooked on drugs and abused by a string of men trying to keep her as a sex object. But along the way, she discovered assets and talents. Eventually, she realized she had inherited her father’s ability to bluff his way through sales and that she was good at prepping a store for presentations. She did some modeling, and that led her to different jobs as a stylist for adult photo shoots. Hart followed a photographer named Eugene to England and wound up traveling around Europe, selling adult photo sets to publishers. At one point, she became a backgammon hustler in Los Angeles, something readers likely won’t find in many memoirs. Most of this happened before she turned 20. What pulls the story along is that each time the exploitation cycle repeated, Hart seemed to get a little closer to relying on her own strengths and finally becoming independent. The drugs, the lure of glamour, and just bad decision-making kept getting in the way. Hart is a gifted storyteller, and sometimes these engaging tales of traveling the world and mingling with the rich and famous seem like something out of a celebrity biopic (perhaps why she subtitled her work). The book is ultimately inspirational, but readers have to see the author go through a wringer to get there.

A harrowing and engrossing account of a young woman’s difficult journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64871-010-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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