With a mission of giving voice to the voiceless, Vallance shares the little-understood experience of surviving a traumatic...

PROGNOSIS

A MEMOIR OF MY BRAIN

A cathartic chronology of one woman who, rather than being defined by her disability, resolved to live by her own design.

In 1995, while visiting a friend’s farm, Sydney, Australia, native Vallance was thrown from a horse, striking her head against a rock. Feeling no worse for the wear, she wrote it off as a freak accident and returned home with a splitting headache. The next morning, everything seemed fine aside from the mystery of how her toaster ended up in the freezer. However, after a battery of hospital tests, the author was told that she suffered a traumatic brain injury. Going from a well-paying position in government and pursuing a doctorate in public administration to having an IQ of 80 and rapidly worsening memory loss, her new condition threw Vallance into depression and emotional turmoil, with which she has struggled since. Discovering the promise of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change throughout a person’s life, she was determined to finish her doctorate. Then she met Laura, a charming extrovert who became her first long-term lesbian partner and primary source of encouragement. In addition to introducing her many dog and cat companions, the author thoroughly explores the “lifetime of resentment” shared with her mother and pores over the dynamics of her other relationships. After winning a fellowship at Harvard, Vallance’s career pursuits carried her across continents, with stints in Singapore and Hong Kong, and then back to Australia, where she eventually met Louise, whom she eventually married. While certain sections of the narrative stray into a diarist’s minutiae, the book is powerful in its depiction of the author’s will to rise above the limitations of her disability rather than succumb to the obstacles and fears that encompass it.

With a mission of giving voice to the voiceless, Vallance shares the little-understood experience of surviving a traumatic brain injury.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4302-1

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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