An essential installment in the Harrison canon.


NONFICTION, 1970-2015

The boozy gourmand and superb writer recounts a long life of misbehavior, fishing, books, and wandering.

“I excel at taking naps, pouring drinks, lighting my cigarettes, writing too many novels, and, some say, cooking,” writes Harrison (1937-2016) in this collection of magazine pieces and other oddments. All of those things are true, but the author also confesses to early troubles in childhood—e.g., when he left a hard-earned fishing rod in the driveway, where his father ran over it. Quoth Dad, “Get your head out of your ass, Jimmy,” to which, decades later, Harrison appends the rueful, “They’re still saying that.” The author had numerous specific loves, most of which he puts on show here: sturdy hunting dogs, fine shotguns, good company out on the chase, and, of course, the finer things of life, especially expensive wines and whiskeys. These coincide in several pieces, as when he recounts getting lost in the company of Philip Caputo and spending a dangerously cold night in the New Mexico mountains with grizzly bear whisperer Doug Peacock, misadventures made more palatable by an unending quaff of Bordeaux. Indeed, Harrison loves laughing at himself in episodes marked by pointed apothegms: “Of course, drugs and fishing don’t mix”; “I could live here,” he writes about walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, “though for reasons of claustrophobia it would have to be in a one-room cabin in the middle of the bridge.” Challenged at a book festival for his love of hunting, he delivered a stock response: “Perhaps I’m less evolved than you are.” Readers who don’t object to pages full of trout, elk, and day drinking will find the essays endlessly charming, and the more adventurous of them will want to retrace Harrison’s travels in places like the northerly canyons of the Yellowstone River and the Sandhills of Nebraska.

An essential installment in the Harrison canon.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8021-5721-8

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?