A lucid, unexpectedly uplifting, and affecting celebration of love that finds hope in despair.

THE ACTUAL DANCE

LOVE'S ULTIMATE JOURNEY THROUGH CANCER

A husband’s love for his wife intensifies after she is diagnosed with breast cancer in this memoir.

In 2000, Simon and his wife, Susan, were in their 34th year of marriage, a moment the author describes as “a perfect time of our lives.” That winter, their lives changed indelibly when Susan was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Simon, having already experienced the death of his mother-in-law at the age of 56 from the same illness, girded himself for the worst. Whereas Susan, then 54, maintained a positive mental attitude, the author fell into depression and at times was afraid he was losing his mind. The memoir charts Susan’s journey, including her mastectomy and aggressive chemotherapy. But the focus is on Simon’s own struggles, describing out-of-body experiences in which he felt he had visited an imaginary ballroom. When his therapist suggested that these experiences brought dignity to a terrible moment, the author recognized his virtual ballroom as a sanctuary. This breakthrough inspired Simon to write and produce a play about his experience of his wife’s illness. The author describes with emotional clarity how uncomfortable procedures, such as administering an injection to Susan, surprisingly became acts of love: “I discover that I can do things I never thought possible and which creates a deep intimacy. Feeling, touching, and noticing are now different from before.” Simon adopts the same candid precision in describing his visions and his bid to understand them: “As I wander around this brilliant ballroom, I am filled with awe. The ballroom sits empty, hollow, pregnant with purpose and readiness. I am the only one here.” Some readers may feel that the author is unnecessarily wordy on occasion: “Wrongness extends beyond the here and now into the eternal, the stuff of primordial creation.” This can be overlooked given Simon’s dazzling eloquence when communicating his deepest fear of losing Susan: “This fear is not just about living alone; the fear is about being alone. The anticipation of losing part of myself will create an existential aloneness in the universe.” Happily, this moving book suggests that people’s fears are not always manifested in reality in quite the way they anticipated.

A lucid, unexpectedly uplifting, and affecting celebration of love that finds hope in despair.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73790-972-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Actual Dance LLC

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2021

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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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