In a book filled with wit, candor, and poignancy, the author concludes, “late-life love may heat at a lower temperature, but...

LATE-LIFE LOVE

A MEMOIR

A deeply personal and bittersweet paean to love “immune to the vicissitude of time.”

Feminist scholar Gubar’s (Emeritus, English/Indiana Univ.; Reading and Writing Cancer: How Words Heal, 2016, etc.) memoir could be read as the third in a trilogy of books she’s recently written exploring her fight against cancer and the roles art and love play in the battle. Her husband, Don, 17 years older than she and suffering from injuries and age-related problems, figured in earlier books, but he’s front and center here. Complicating their time together was the difficult decision to leave their large house, Inverness, for an apartment. She borrows a term from Joyce Carol Oates, “bibliomemoir,” to describe her quest to find “honest portraits” from fiction, poems, plays, and films that deal with the “tensions, tussles, and triumphs of my own later-life love affair.” Gubar “integrate[s] literary interpretation with personal reflection” to fashion a “resounding retort to overwhelmingly negative valuations of aging.” She sets off “searching for trail markings on an uncleared path” with Jenny Diski’s “comedy of bad manners,” Happily Ever After, and then discovers Helen Simonson’s “sparkling” novel about loss, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which drew her into a “world unlike my own.” Gubar also discusses Samuel Beckett’s “unexpectedly funny” play Happy Days, a “geriatric farce intriguing in its portrayal of a later-life love affair like no other.” Gabriel García Márquez’s “sprawling” Love in the Time of Cholera hits the “grand slam of late-life love tradition” with its portrait of love as “both a sickness and an anodyne.” Offering particular support were poet and translator Jane Kenyon, Donald Hall’s poems about his ill wife, and Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Lila, which cost Gubar “half a box of tissues.”

In a book filled with wit, candor, and poignancy, the author concludes, “late-life love may heat at a lower temperature, but it bubbles and rises.”

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-393-60957-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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