Pleasant and sympathetic, even in its darker moments—of particular interest to readers schooled at the barre.

THE OTHER MOTHER

A REMEMOIR

Affecting memoir of intergenerational friendship.

Bernice Rosalie Miller, aka Byrne, was a pioneer of modern dance, a graduate of the school of hard knocks and the burlesque stage who grew comfortably old with a struggling-writer husband, Duncan, both fixtures in the cultural life of Beaufort, S.C. It was there that Bruce, a dancer and gymnast–turned–TV reporter looking for a different path, met them. Bruce was involved in a difficult relationship, complex as only difficult relationships can be, and still wounded by the tragic death of a young brother years before, so that friendship with the Millers came at just the right time, as Byrne became the voice of experience and “other mother” that Bruce needed. The author traces their stories separately and together, marking, in understated prose, the points where roads were not taken and fateful decisions were made. The Millers’ love story is invigorating and often charming, if now a touch old-fashioned; the modern Don Juan does not tug away a woman’s scarf and say, “Hold nothing back, my love….Every part of you is too stunning to subdue.” The narrative occasionally drags in earnestness, and the players are sometimes less scintillating than Bruce might wish; not everything they do and say is drenched in genius. In particular, Byrne’s apothegms (“Monogamy is overrated. Honesty is imperative”) become tiresome—Harold and Maude without the Harold. However, Bruce does a good job of weaving divergent stories into one, and there are some nice moments of emotion and drama, as when a manuscript of Duncan’s confronts Byrne with some uncomfortable truths (if disguised as fictions) at the same time that Byrne’s daughter decides to do the very thing that would shock her bohemian parents the most: enlist in the Marines.

Pleasant and sympathetic, even in its darker moments—of particular interest to readers schooled at the barre.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9841073-9-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Joggling Board Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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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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