A bittersweet and engrossing literary heirloom filled with family secrets, haunting memories, and striking challenges.

WHISPER OF HOPE, CRY OF DESPAIR

A Vermont-based artist and musician chronicles the serpentine saga of her family’s legacy of struggles and abuse in this debut memoir.

With cleareyed, unvarnished prose and dynamic details, Bedi vividly traces her family lineage back to her ancestors’ arrival on American shores as Slavic immigrants “during the first decade of the twentieth century.” But across this ancestral lore are several dark shadows in the form of murder, suicide, and interfamilial abuse. These tragedies shook the Bedi bloodline to its core and soured the author’s youth and adulthood. Through the use of family tree graphics, photographs, official records, newspaper clippings, and her own memories, the author generously shares the story of her paternal grandfather, Eli, who was murdered in 1917, supposedly at the hands of his wife, Flora. Bedi believes the crime was spurred by a love triangle and that Flora’s lover “actually killed Eli.” When Flora was charged with homicide, her children (including the author’s father) were placed in a Vermont orphanage where they grew up in a neglectful, abusive environment. Bedi’s maternal grandfather killed himself over “the loss of the Czar’s Russia” and “the shame” of incestuous affairs. Her father became a gifted machinist while her mother, Laura, born to Russian immigrants, grew up on a farm and was unpredictable as an adult. Unafraid to reveal the truth about her family’s melodrama, Bedi writes candidly about the bewilderment she felt over her parents’ mismatched marriage in 1937, given that her tempestuous mother “clearly was mentally ill and Dad was an abused orphan.” In this melancholy account, she expresses outrage at Laura and “Gram” for allowing a legacy of intergenerational abuse to proliferate within their family for decades. Despite the hardships experienced by her ancestors that infused her worldview, Bedi’s own history in the final chapter is evoked with generous anecdotes about her immense artistic interests in music education even as her aging mother’s mental state deteriorated further. Upon Laura’s death, the author “cried then, not because she was dead but because the chance for her to realize what she had done was dead too.” Though her mother’s cycle of cruelty died with her, Bedi admits to still struggling toward complete forgiveness and some catharsis as an adult survivor of child abuse, and that her own happiness remains a work in progress.

A bittersweet and engrossing literary heirloom filled with family secrets, haunting memories, and striking challenges.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5320-5790-8

Page Count: 66

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2019

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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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