Both entertaining and grippingly introspective, Haddish’s take-no-prisoners tale is a testament to self-will and how humor...

THE LAST BLACK UNICORN

The stand-up comedian and actress opens up about her past and the perils of being a woman in comedy.

In her uncensored and often hilarious debut memoir, Haddish reveals pivotal events from her personal life that helped propel her toward the stage. “I got into the entertainment business so I could feel accepted,” she writes. “And loved. And safe.” After learning about the trials of her early years, readers will appreciate how trying to make a roomful of strangers laugh could prove easier than negotiating the minefield of the author’s home life. Though somewhat dismissive of her uncanny ability to rise above adversity, Haddish provides a colloquially written rags-to-riches story that is both impressive and harrowing. Abandoned by her father at age 3 and forced to live with her grandmother at 8, after her mother was in a devastating car accident that caused permanent brain damage, Haddish spent years taking care of her younger siblings or being abused while in foster care. She turned to humor as a defense mechanism, getting her comedic start as a teen working as an “energy producer” at bar mitzvahs around Los Angeles. Once her grandmother learned she would no longer receive financial support for caring for her granddaughter, she turned Haddish out, causing her to become homeless at 18. At 21, the author’s stepfather told her that not only was he responsible for the accident that had forever changed her mother, but that it had been meant to kill her and all her siblings so he could cash in on the life insurance. After learning this, Haddish says she started dating policemen. “It’s always good to have police friends,” she writes, “especially black police, because there aren’t a lot of them.” The author’s unrelenting positivity and openness about how insecurities about her own self-worth led to poor decisions later in life offer important lessons and hope for others seemingly trapped in toxic relationships.

Both entertaining and grippingly introspective, Haddish’s take-no-prisoners tale is a testament to self-will and how humor can save your life.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8182-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 26, 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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