Despite some repetition, deft pacing and vivid portraits result in an absorbing mystery and a forthright memoir of abiding...

AFTER THE ECLIPSE

A MOTHER'S MURDER, A DAUGHTER'S SEARCH

In an accomplished debut memoir, a daughter struggles to understand the life of her mother, who was murdered when the author was 12.

An only child, Perry became a problem for her relatives: her unstable grandmother, aunts who lived near and far, and a father who had left her mother years before and willingly gave up parental rights. In the immediate aftermath of the murder, Perry was questioned relentlessly by the police, who intimated that she was somehow complicit in the murder: she must have seen something, or she must have known the killer whom she was protecting. She was haunted by the murder and fearful that the killer would return to murder her, too. Shuttled between relatives in Maine, she finally ended up in Texas, where her mother’s sister Tootsie was stationed with the Army. When Tootsie suddenly and harshly sent her back to Maine, she was taken in by her former babysitter, who claimed to have been her mother’s best friend, a woman incapable of understanding Perry’s emotional state. “My sadness was overwhelmed by fear and visceral disgust and rage,” writes the author, “rage so consuming and aimless that sometimes I was afraid of myself.” At one point, she considered suicide; instead, she deliberately tamped down her feelings. An unsympathetic psychologist concluded that her “effort at control” was “sinister,” indicating that she was somehow involved in her mother’s death. The killer—a man her mother may have known—was apprehended and convicted 12 years after the crime, but the information disclosed during the trial only made her mother more mysterious to Perry. Two TV dramas later documented the case, but the author felt the story was unfinished, inspiring her quest to understand her mother’s life, the series of volatile men she lived with, her community’s culture of violence, and her family’s deep wounds.

Despite some repetition, deft pacing and vivid portraits result in an absorbing mystery and a forthright memoir of abiding grief.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-30265-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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