LOST IN SUBURBIA

A MOMOIR OF HOW I GOT PREGNANT, LOST MYSELF, AND GOT MY COOL BACK IN THE NEW JERSEY SUBURBS

Lighthearted, mostly humorous memoir of suburban motherhood based on the author's nationally syndicated column.

Published by more than 400 newspapers in 25 states, Beckerman's column inspired an eponymous blog (lostinsuburbia.net), and her funny accounts of situations running the gamut from mundane to outrageous have resonated with readers, particularly mothers of young children. This book opens with a scene in which the always self-deprecating Beckerman, on an afternoon school run to pick up her daughter, was pulled over by a police officer who dryly observed that she was wearing her bathrobe. Chapter titles, including "I'm Not Fat, I'm Just Pregnant. Okay, I'm Fat, Too" and " 'P' Is for Parenting and Prozac," in addition to Beckerman's tone, are consistently zippy and dramatic. She includes plenty of confrontations, like the scene in which her husband discovered she got a tattoo at age 35, as well as internal monologues riffing on the less-appealing aspects of motherhood, such as the lack of time to take a shower. The tattoo and subsequent chopping off of her hair are ascribed to Beckerman's desire to be "cool" again, the way she was pre-motherhood when she worked in TV and lived in Manhattan. These efforts string the chapters together with the theme of the reignition of her individuality. Feeling that people look down on mothers, she acknowledges that "the second we become moms we start to let ourselves go." Beckerman doesn't want to lose herself in motherhood, and her "momoir" offers entertaining vignettes about balancing her responsibilities at home with her quest to tap into her true self.

Breezy fun.

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0399159930

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Perigee/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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