Engaging writing by an honest self-explorer.



Charismatic, albeit meandering memoir about the author’s discovery of love and self-acceptance while on a book tour.

The book was Chosen by a Horse (2006), an account of Richards’s relationship with an abused mare named “Lay Me Down” that finally got this reclusive animal lover and writing teacher into print after years of trying. The tour plucked her from isolation in upstate New York for what became a life-altering journey through small-town bookstores across the Northeast. Richards reconnected with friends and relatives she’d cut off during years of anxiety and low self-esteem, encounters that prompted her to examine the memories surrounding each of them and to grapple with her past. Bolstered by positive reviews and feedback from readers, her confidence grew. She was able to develop relationships and chat with strangers at her readings; she could even, when a self-assured older gentleman crossed her path, overcome her wariness of intimacy. Richards had experienced previous disappointments and was going through menopause, so theirs was not precisely a fairy-tale romance, even though she makes frequent use of the word “fate” when describing it. Self-conscious, cautious and analytical during the process of falling in love, the author fought feelings of being swept away. She shares all of this quite openly with readers in candid, if somewhat undirected prose that explores her fears, her past and her passions. Anxiety often takes the front seat in her narrative, which chronicles a struggle toward self-approval after a lifetime of feeling unwanted. Richards admits to being shy in person, but she’s clearly comfortable in the memoir format, which tends to foster an occasionally excessive amount of self-psychoanalysis. (She’s equally at ease talking about her “baggage” or her pets.) Fortunately, her charming, self-effacing humor keeps the tone light even when she’s examining darker feelings.

Engaging writing by an honest self-explorer.

Pub Date: June 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-56947-492-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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 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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