The memoir stalls in spots, but Parker is a likable, sympathetic narrator.

An Eventful Life

This short memoir tracks the author’s lifelong trek from Australia to England to New Zealand and back home.

Debut memoirist Parker’s granddaughter asked for an account of her great-grandfather’s life (which is included as a short addendum to this book). But her request sparked Parker’s urge to recount his own. Born in 1925 in the small Australian town of Carcoar, New South Wales, he went on to at least three careers as a navy man, a merchant seaman, and a teacher. He was a mediocre student but an avid athlete who didn’t get a high school degree until late in life and then went on to university. Early on, the family—father was a World War I vet and a traveling “picture-show man”—moved to Sydney, so young Parker became an urban kid with roots in the country. We learn about his friends and casual enemies (fistfighting seems to have been a popular pastime) and of all the sports that he reveled in. We follow him over the years to England and New Zealand and back home to Ianthe, the girl he finally married. The last chapters are the saddest but the best. Ianthe suffered from dementia and he couldn’t care for Ianthe at home. He felt guilty for having larked about while she raised the kids and kept the home going (one wants to say, “Please don’t beat up on yourself so!”). After a health scare, his desperate and humorous attempt to have chickens for a bit of company ended badly. But in his facing old age and loneliness head-on, we do come to really like this fellow. It’s the best part of the book. Fuzzy black-and-whites from family albums add charm. The anecdotes often fall flat, and the punctuation is very strange, often not just distracting but genuinely confusing.

The memoir stalls in spots, but Parker is a likable, sympathetic narrator.

Pub Date: July 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-50-350276-5

Page Count: 136

Publisher: XlibrisAU

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2015

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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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