Readers will enjoy Caldwell’s thoughtful, wide-eyed view of the world around her and her musings on how we get our bearings...

NEW LIFE, NO INSTRUCTIONS

A MEMOIR

Making the most of a new lease on life.

Caldwell (Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship, 2010, etc.) has had a writing career intertwined with the writer Caroline Knapp (Drinking: A Love Story, 1997, etc.), as the two friends supported each other through challenges big and small. They’ve played roles in each other’s memoirs; this time, Knapp’s role is posthumous (she died in 2002) but no less important. Caldwell takes the death of her friend, lost to cancer, as one of three leaping-off points. She also deals with the deaths of both her mother and her dog, and while these three losses happen in a 10-year span, they comprise a loss of nearly all the closest companions she has known. “One of the things you miss after someone dies is the shared fact of you. The we of me,” she writes: “The existential anchor,” and as we know, without an anchor, there is drift. The author’s drift is our gain, though, as she ably explores the shifts of our hearts as we grieve. Her body underwent shifts as well; a case of polio from early childhood reared up again, leaving her barely ambulatory. While the heart’s ailments took longer to heal, at least in Caldwell’s case, science could assist the body. A common surgery, it turned out, could return her to full mobility; when it did, she experienced a renewed vigor in easing the emotional pain. She adopted a dog, wondering if she had waited long enough after her last dog passed away. As she explores the elastic boundaries of the heart in giving and taking new beings into our lives, she discusses her reconnection with the community around her.

Readers will enjoy Caldwell’s thoughtful, wide-eyed view of the world around her and her musings on how we get our bearings in midlife.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6954-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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 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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more