A breezy collection of tell-all stories about the trials of raising children that can feel dashed off but often hits its...

MOTHERHOOD MARTYRDOM & COSTCO RUNS

In 30 vignettes, the author relates her wacky experiences raising two young daughters.

As the mother of two preternaturally spunky girls, Dineen (The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan, 2016, etc.) has her hands full vacuuming up Legos, answering her daughters’ probing questions about adult body parts, and shuttling them between Costco’s restrooms and the food court. Not to mention the travails she endured during her pregnancies: several miscarriages and devastating postpartum depression. The author relates her struggles to keep fit and put together while juggling motherhood with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor about how much of a shambles she is. She navigates the treacherous waters of child-rearing with hilarity: considering whether to curse around the kids, scolding them when they yell out inappropriate things about others in public, and dealing with her fears of letting her daughters roam unattended, along with other anxieties. One particular standout tale begins by chattily explaining her neurotic need for organization and transitions into talking about how immobilized she is as she waits for the results of her husband’s biopsy. The writing is light and propulsive—a quick read that conveys the sense that Dineen just scribbled down the words in between Costco runs. That immediacy is refreshing, but it can make a few stories come off as inarticulate or flip. Take an ill-advised dialogue between the author and a customer-service rep with a strong Indian accent: “Bob: Akbar, junkdoo, doodly, remote access, alacazam, Wheatknee. Me: Um, yes, that would be fine. Bob: Sidhartha doodly dingly dung, Wheatknee. Okay, Wheatknee?” Though there are moments of earnestness, the pieces are mostly written like punchy stand-up comedy bits, with laugh lines propelled mostly by scatological humor that may delight some readers and put off others. (On picking her nose: “I was having a heck of a time rooting that sucker out before I hit traffic and was two knuckles deep before I even noticed my friend’s husband drive past me.”)

A breezy collection of tell-all stories about the trials of raising children that can feel dashed off but often hits its humorous marks.

Pub Date: May 15, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 188

Publisher: 33 Partners Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

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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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