Crass, callous, sordid and cynical—thus, utterly true to the spirit of Dalí and a certain bestseller. Already in the works,...

DALÍ & I

THE SURREAL STORY

Melting clock of a memoir about the author’s experiences selling Dalí works—some authentic, many not—during those heady recent decades when the merest splatter or signature attributed to the Spanish artist was as hot as a subprime mortgage.

He’s telling things the way he remembers them, declares convicted Belgian conman turned author Lauryssens (The Man Who Invented the Third Reich, 1999, etc.). Freeing himself from the troublesome bonds of fact by acknowledging that his myriad pages of dialogue are “recreated,” he presents his life on an impressive platter, apparently hoping that readers will attend to the fine china rather than the rancid meat it holds. If the author is to be trusted (beware: He conned buyers virtually to the end), he was plucked as a young man from a cheese factory to be a Hollywood reporter for Panorama, a Belgian weekly. He never went to California; instead, he fabricated stories, including an apocryphal interview with Dalí that launched him onto the fast lane of the fine-art freeway. Working for a man with the ethics of a starving predator, Lauryssens was soon passing himself off as a Dalí authority and making major bucks in numerous art swindles. The gullible arrived like eager sheep, according to the author, who writes fondly of the lavish lifestyle they enabled him to enjoy. He jetted about and stayed in multistar hotels. He married a nice woman; it didn’t last. He sired some children, professing to love them as he was hauled off to jail. He found himself in the circle of Dalí intimates, who shared with him their stories of rampant forgery and the artist’s notorious sex circuses. Readers beware: The language is explicit in this wild and woolly account; we learn what devices were put into which people under what conditions.

Crass, callous, sordid and cynical—thus, utterly true to the spirit of Dalí and a certain bestseller. Already in the works, a film with Al Pacino and Cillian Murphy: scary.

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-37993-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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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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