The author thankfully avoids self-righteousness, so while she offers a guide of sorts for those who may be interested in...

THE ART OF SLEEPING ALONE

WHY ONE FRENCH WOMAN GAVE UP SEX

Parisian novelist and Elle France editor Fontanel explores her decision to practice celibacy for more than a decade, beginning at age 27, and avers that sexual liberation ought to include the freedom to not have sex.

"I'd had it with being taken and rattled around," she confesses, adding that she was tired, both physically and emotionally, of saying yes to lovers. In need of tranquility, she opted to stop having sex and, in the months that followed, found that she'd never been happier; she felt safe, confident and nurtured. In chapters averaging two to three pages, Fontanel cuts her life into vignettes that jump between time periods to reveal personal details about her romantic endeavors and heavy social calendar. Upon learning about her decision, friends and acquaintances offered endless questions and skepticism, and Fontanel artfully and humorously describes the couples who cast aspersions on her choice. "Why valorize the concept of a sex life simply because it's a sex life?" writes the author. "Leave people the treasure they posses: their indescribable equilibrium." Fontanel had been sexually active with men since her teenage years. Her depiction of celibacy isn't prudish or dry but lush; she isn't shy when describing either her previous affairs or her current erotic fantasies, and her frankness keeps the book from straying into polemical territory. The writing is stripped bare, with no extra fat or flair, and this simplicity works in the author’s favor. Fontanel highlights encounters with male friends and dates, detailing their conversations in a way that underscores her conclusion that sex requires meaning; it is more than merely a superficial connection.

The author thankfully avoids self-righteousness, so while she offers a guide of sorts for those who may be interested in following the same path, her voice and story hold up on their own, as do her insightful, darkly funny observations on societal expectations regarding sex.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9627-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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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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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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