Mostly for fans of Nadelson’s fiction.



Nadelson (Aftermath: Stories, 2011, etc.) takes a break from fiction to deliver this bit of personal history.

The author grew up in New Jersey, but the first half of his memoir takes place in Oregon, where he moved after college. There he met his ex-fiancee, the woman who acted as impetus for the book. She left Nadelson a month before their planned wedding, and the breakup and its lonely aftermath form the backbone of his musings. After spending the bulk of the book chronicling those years, Nadelson turns to memories of his high school years and one summer as an adolescent at camp. During these chapters, he occasionally refers back to the dark period he experienced after his breakup, but he doesn’t connect the segments in any major way. The lessons learned from his younger self are, when defined, eloquent and universal. About his uncle’s suicide he writes, “What I glimpsed in Uncle Mitch’s death, I can see now, was the well of potential suffering we all live with but rarely acknowledge.” These moments hint at the wisdom acquired with time and self-examination, but they are unfortunately matched and even overshadowed by the opposite: times when the author sounds like he’s still an angry teenager. Describing parents of his fellow campers, he writes, “These parents were the tacky rich, desperate to prove how high they’d climbed, and their children were spoiled and snobbish, nothing to envy.” Nadelson may be right about this, but coming from the point of view of his older and hopefully wiser self, it just sounds bitter and judgmental. The series of vignettes he sketches are well-illustrated, but they lack focus and direction; many of them have little or nothing to do with the relationship disaster that seems to have sparked the writer’s life analysis.

Mostly for fans of Nadelson’s fiction.

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9834775-6-3

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Hawthorne Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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 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...


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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