A useful book for any young writer, and a must for fans, this is unmistakably King: friendly, sharply perceptive, cheerfully...

ON WRITING

A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT

Generous, lucid, and passionate, King (Hearts in Atlantis, 1999, etc.) offers lessons and encouragement to the beginning writer, along with a warts-and-all account of a less-than-carefree life.

The composition of this memoir, King’s first nonfiction work since Danse Macabre, was interrupted when he was almost killed by a drunk driver in 1999. The first portion of it shares the making of the writer: his impoverished but experientially rich childhood, his first efforts and influences, the threadbare existence he and his wife Tabitha lived until the publication of Carrie, and his remarkable success thereafter. There are some delightful anecdotes here. In a late-night creative frenzy, his wife sleeping in their London hotel room, King asks the concierge for a place to write and is led to Rudyard Kipling's desk. Though intimidated, King proceeds to write the beginnings of Misery, then thanks the concierge, who tells him, “Kipling died there actually. . . . While writing.” King discusses his problems with drugs and alcohol and offers an assessment of his own work (he doesn’t think much of Insomnia or Rose Madder, but he liked Cujo and regrets that he was too drunk at the time to remember writing any of it). Written largely while recovering from his accident, the rest of the memoir answers the questions King hears from aspiring writers, as well as the questions they should be asking, but don't. With examples that reach from T.S. Eliot to pulp fiction, there's much trenchant material here on how to construct a story, how to revise, and how to go about building a career. King stresses character and situation over plotting, and insists on basics—like Strunk and White and, above all, endless reading and writing. While his proposed output might intimidate some, his enthusiasm wins out.

A useful book for any young writer, and a must for fans, this is unmistakably King: friendly, sharply perceptive, cheerfully vulgar, sometimes adolescent in his humor, sometimes impatient with fools, but always sincere in his love of language and writing.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2000

ISBN: 0-684-85352-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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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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