An honest, unapologetic, and keenly observed memoir.


The intimate story of the sexual abuse the author experienced as a child as well as her sexual coming-of-age and development.

The Rumpus Sunday editor Zolbrod (Currency, 2010) was just 4 years old when her 16-year-old cousin, Toshi, who had moved into her home to escape a difficult family situation, began abusing her. Toshi left a year later, and the author did not speak of the incident to anyone. At 12, she finally blurted out her story to a friend who had just become sexually active. When she mentioned the molestation again, it was to Carl, a young man she met one summer in college and with whom she shared a profound erotic connection. Zolbrod discovered that, rather than seeming like an interesting but ultimately empty story out of “a V.C. Andrews novel,” her troubled past gave her “street cred” among the counterculture “ragamuffins” and sex workers who were her housemates. With Carl, she plumbed the depths of her own desire fiercely and without shame. Yet subsequent relationships mirrored the deep-seated unease she also felt about her sexuality. One in particular was with a Chicago artist whose work reflected his obsession with circumcision and the rage he felt at having been “mutilated.” Influenced by her association with Carl, the author found herself crying spontaneously over her memories of molestation. Finally telling her mother and father about Toshi only intensified her confusion; neither assumed the roles of outraged parents she “had retroactively assigned them.” Only after she was in her 30s and learned that Toshi had been convicted of aggravated child assault did she begin to free herself from her past by more actively confronting it. Zolbrod’s fragmented narrative style, which moves between life episodes rather than chronologically, perfectly captures her fractured sense of self. What makes this book so memorable, however, is the courage she eventually found to move beyond the paralyzing “web of loyalty and blood” to tell her truth.

An honest, unapologetic, and keenly observed memoir.

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-940430-74-4

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Curbside Splendor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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 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 19, 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...


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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