A thought-provoking volume, all the more memorable for being unapologetic.

A KILLER OF SERIAL WOMEN

A TRUE STORY

One man’s frank appraisal of his life as a sadomasochist.

Before he’s ten paragraphs into his memoir of lust, pain and sexual perversion, Marten invokes the Marquis de Sade, whose epic ramblings on those same subjects made him the scandal of his time and an enduring object of fascination to this day. The invocation is a daring gambit (de Sade had considerable literary talent) and Marten’s narrative does share two qualities with his prototype—it’s utterly unflinching and it’s incredibly lively. Marten outlines the development of his sexual fascinations—he’s aroused by pain and likes to hurt his sex partners—from childhood, when encyclopedia illustrations prompted his first sadomasochistic imaginings; through fraternity life at college, where self-bondage was as close as he could get to the real thing; into the dating scene, with often hilarious results; and, in the book’s strongest, most heartfelt passages, through the early joys and eventual breakdown of his marriage. Marten’s wife, Rachel, is initially an enthusiastic participant in his fantasies, but once their novelty wears off for her, a void opens in their relationship. Marten chronicles it with an absorbing lack of self-pity: “I had once seen Rachel as a doorway to possibility, but now she’d become my jailer” (he consistently refers to women who disappoint him—including his mother—as his “jailers”). Marten’s unspoken insistence that, bedroom preferences notwithstanding, he is a likable and even decent guy runs throughout the book, putting a refreshingly human face on sexual behaviors most people dismiss as sordid and criminal. Unlike the infamous Marquis, all of Marten’s partners were consensual.

A thought-provoking volume, all the more memorable for being unapologetic.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4363-4306-0

Page Count: 239

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2010

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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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