Mordantly understated at times, delightfully sharp-tongued at others.

MY MESS IS A BIT OF A LIFE

ADVENTURES IN ANXIETY

A respected film and TV writer looks back on her life and struggles with anxiety.

Writing, notes Pritchett, is “just something that I like to do” rather than something she expected would garner accolades. But after she was awarded an “unnecessarily big [Hollywood] trophy,” she suddenly felt as though she “was being slowly digested by a giant black snake.” The jumbled, depressed author then went to a therapist only to find she literally could not talk about anything. So she began to write her story instead. The result is a droll memoir that explores the fears that began when, at age 3, Pritchett had the terrifying realization that “bad things happen” and “we’re all doomed.” The author portrays herself as a neurotic child worried about everything from dying in the night to monsters hiding under her bed: “Were they comfy enough? How could they sleep on a hard floor surrounded by crumbs and dust? Sometimes I slept under the bed so that they could have a turn on top.” Pritchett credits her grandfather, acclaimed novelist and literary critic V.S. Pritchett, with teaching her that writing could be a “lifeline” to escape the hard-edged randomness of life. The author got her first break writing comedy for the British media outlet Radio 4 only to have her material credited to “George.” Yet even as she experienced success, she was still “treated like an imposter”—not only for her lack of a degree from a prestigious university, but also because comedy itself was dominated by men who treated her with hostility and a sense of sexual entitlement. Though some readers may not fully appreciate Pritchett’s spare style and the nicknames she uses when referring to those who are closest to her, anyone who enjoys Pritchett’s work and/or British humor will no doubt like this book.

Mordantly understated at times, delightfully sharp-tongued at others.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-320637-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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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For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

THE DEFENSE LAWYER

THE BARRY SLOTNICK STORY

The Patterson publishing machine clanks its way into the nonfiction aisles in this lumbering courtroom drama.

Barry Slotnick made a considerable fortune and reputation as a defense attorney who had a long list of controversial clients, including mob boss John Gotti and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. An “urbane lawyer known for his twenty-five-hundred-dollar Fioravanti suits, he was not unacquainted with violence,” write Patterson and Wallace. One of his early cases, indeed, involved a group of Jewish Defense League members who allegedly blew up a Broadway producer’s office, killing a woman who worked there. Slotnick’s defense was a standard confuse-the-jury ploy, but it worked. He put similar tactics to work in his defense of Bernhard Goetz, the “subway shooter” whose trial made international news. The authors open after that trial had concluded in yet another Slotnick win, and with a sensational incident: He was attacked by a masked man who beat him with a baseball bat. The evidence is sketchy, but it seems to place the attack in the hands of organized crime—perhaps even Gotti himself. No matter: Slotnick, “who saw himself as the foe of the all-powerful government” and “liberty’s last champion,” was soon back to representing clients including Radovan Karadžić, the murderous Bosnian Serb who was eventually imprisoned for having committed genocide; Dewi Sukarno, the widow of Indonesia’s similarly bloodstained president, “arrested for slashing the face of a fellow socialite with a broken champagne glass at a party in Aspen”; and Melania Trump, who had chosen Slotnick “to handle her prenup.” In the hands of a John Grisham, the story might have come to life, but while Patterson does a serviceable if cliché-ridden job of recounting Slotnick’s career, he fails to give readers much reason to admire the man.

For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49437-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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