A solid memoir mostly for fans of the band.

HIGH SCHOOL

A coming-of-age memoir about how the Canadian twin sisters became successful recording artists.

When they started high school, Tegan and Sara Quin considered themselves oddballs, outcasts, and misfits. They were big music fans—Nirvana, Green Day, the Smashing Pumpkins—but had no particular musical aspirations. Other than being identical twins, there was not much to distinguish them from other teenagers trying to navigate the awkward years—certainly nothing to suggest that they would soon become young recording stars and icons of the burgeoning LGBTQ community. These were pivotal years for the sisters, and their musical success would prove transformative. However, music almost seems like an afterthought here, as the authors proceed in alternating chapters to show how their experience was fairly typical. They did lots of drugs, got blackout drunk on occasion, went to parties that got out of control, experienced their sexual awakenings, and wrestled with their sexual identities. Both had boyfriends and girlfriends, and both struggled with the issue of whether a particular girl was her best friend or something more. They also fought a lot. The music came when they found a guitar that belonged to their stepfather and separately began writing songs and then harmonizing with each other’s songs. The sisters also hid many of their experiences from each other, so it proved cathartic to write and share. “I wrote lyrics that sometimes felt too close to the bone,” remembers Sara, recalling how the unraveling of her relationship with her girlfriend contributed to her songwriting surge. After arranging the song with her sister, she writes, “when we finished, I felt lighter.” Their friends became fans of their music, and a self-recorded cassette helped expand that fandom. Winning a prestigious talent contest earned them studio time, and they marked their 18th birthdays by signing with one of the recording labels that had been pursuing them.

A solid memoir mostly for fans of the band.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982112-66-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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