An original, if unapologetically lengthy, memoir of an American’s Italian life.

THE GIRL FROM BORGO

SEEKING HOME

A memoir of an American-born woman’s long relationship with a small town in Tuscany.

Although debut author Fix was born in Chicago, she moved with her family to a street called Borgo in tiny Cetona, Italy, at a young age. The author learned Italian, went to school, and experienced the many joys and hardships of growing up on what, for her, was foreign soil. However, when she later attended Yale University, she felt alienated from her fellow American students. She had no shared experiences with them, and she found complex course work in the English language to be oddly challenging. She later returned to Cetona many times to visit, but she would build her professional and personal life in the United States. After decades of living in America, she decided to come back and spend a full year in Cetona. The book chronicles her time back in Italy and mixes it with memories of her past. As she visits with old friends, she’s reminded of what makes a small town great (everyone knows everyone) and awful (everyone gossips about everyone: “Even when you do things with the best intentions, here someone will find fault”). Fix writes lovingly of the many characters that make up this “lost town in the hills”; one person is described as possessing “gentle brown eyes” and another as a “great-looking woman.” But although such descriptions are heartfelt, readers may sometimes find it difficult to differentiate between the many figures that she encountered during her stay. They also add to a hefty page count. Still, Fix’s focus on the small town of Cetona is inarguably unusual, and her remembrance is full of illuminating details, particularly when comparing cultures. For example, of New York City’s Little Italy, she writes: “They spoke dialects I couldn’t understand and thought Italian food something it isn’t.” The end result is a touching personal tale that’s full of nostalgia yet strikingly honest.

An original, if unapologetically lengthy, memoir of an American’s Italian life.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 702

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: April 2, 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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