Forthright and private moments are revealed as a stand-up comedian uses her gift of creating laughter to overcome personal...

I'M JUST A PERSON

A stand-up comic and writer’s year from hell.

When Notaro received antibiotics for a case of pneumonia, she didn’t know she was embarking on months of health and family disasters. The drugs gave her a difficult and debilitating intestinal disease called C. diff, which caused her to lose more than 20 pounds and experience terrible abdominal pain. In the same time period, she lost her mother to an unexpected home accident. Then, after months of delay, she finally decided to examine the lump in her breast that she’d detected two years earlier, only to be told she had breast cancer in both breasts. At this extremely low point in her life, Notaro walked on stage and delivered brand-new material, opening with lines about her cancer. Once the audience realized she wasn’t joking, she writes, it was then “her job as a comedian to get every silenced, stunned person back to laughing….I made it my mission to yank everyone out of the dark hole by delivering a lighter joke or asking why they were taking this so hard—which caused the laughter that we all needed.” She received a standing ovation, and her career skyrocketed even as she faced a double mastectomy, the ongoing grief of her mother’s passing, and a broken romance. As she unfolds the intimate moments of her personal annus horribilis, Notaro intermingles laugh-out-loud moments from her childhood with her crazy mother and stepfather and sweet romantic times as an adult. Throughout her brief work, the author is frank, at times humorous, and anything but melodramatic. She shows readers the full spectrum of her emotional and physical conditions, her vulnerability, and ultimately her strength as she enters a happier and healthier stage in her life.

Forthright and private moments are revealed as a stand-up comedian uses her gift of creating laughter to overcome personal and physical disasters.

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-226663-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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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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