A singularly compelling memoir.

THE FALL

A FATHER'S MEMOIR IN 424 STEPS

A father finds his life transformed when his son is born with cerebral palsy, as illuminated through this masterfully written memoir.

The structuring of this book, by Venice-based Brazilian author Mainardi, might initially seem overly precious or gimmicky. Each very short section (a paragraph or two, a photo, a drawing) is numbered, with each representing a step taken by the author’s son, Tito, before he inevitably falls. The 424 steps here represent a monumental achievement, for, as the author notes, the “sixteen steps Tito took on 28 September 2005 became, some months later, twenty-seven steps. Some months later, the seven steps became forty-four steps….” Ultimately, the structuring provides a sturdy frame that allows Mainardi to avoid sentimentality or wallowing in grief (or rage at the Venetian hospital that bungled the birth), while showing how the unconditional love the parents have for their son has transformed the author’s world. He connects everything to Tito’s destiny—from the architecture that drew him to the hospital to “Hitler’s ‘euthanasia’ program [that] offered ‘mercy killings’ to those whose lives were ‘worthless’ or ‘not worth living’ ” to Neil Young’s experience with two sons born with cerebral palsy and the music that resulted in such unlikely juxtapositions as, “No one falls better than James Joyce. Apart from Lou Costello.” As the author of four published novels and a column in the Brazilian magazine Veja, Mainardi now thinks of himself: “I am Tito’s father. I exist only because Tito exists.” Tito emerges as collaborator in the book—not as a cause or a type or a symbol but as a happy, well-adjusted, well-loved individual with a life well worth living.

A singularly compelling memoir.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59051-700-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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