A glimpse of how schizophrenia looks and feels from the inside.

A KIND OF MIRRACULAS PARADISE

A TRUE STORY ABOUT SCHIZOPHRENIA

A schizophrenic’s autobiographical manuscript serves as a creative-nonfiction project for his niece.

As a graduate student in creative nonfiction at the University of Iowa, former BuzzFeed editor Allen received a large envelope from the man she had affectionately known as “my crazy uncle Bob.” Her mother’s brother hadn’t been in much contact with the rest of the family outside of phone calls and an occasional cassette of the music he made and that obsessed him. The author set it aside because it disturbed her. However, she eventually not only read it, but began devoting much of her scholastic energy to it, sharing it with fellow students and writing an essay about it. Once she had brought herself to read it, “what surprised me was how much I liked it—his word choices and style.” Allen alternates between her edit of the manuscript she received, preserving the style and substance but cleaning it up some (it had been in all capital letters with irregular punctuation), and her own interpretation of what happened to her uncle: her attempts to corroborate what he had written with his parents and friends and her views on his treatment and psychiatry in general. The result is a patchwork, with the reader not sure what to believe and why it should be significant. Family members disagreed over Bob’s diagnosis and his recollections, and Allen’s own attempts to find perspective lack authority. “In my experience,” she writes, “people who’ve been psychiatrically diagnosed feel a variety of ways about their diagnosis and about the field of psychiatry itself.” She elaborates, “no two people I’ve interviewed or resources I’ve read about mental health care in America have felt the same way about what the right treatment should look like. But almost everyone who follows these issues agrees that the situation at present is quite grim.” Bob may not have managed to fit inside society, but he found a measure of peace outside it.

A glimpse of how schizophrenia looks and feels from the inside.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3403-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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