Moving Mother’s Day reading for the fearless and brave—though some readers may want to have their therapist on speed-dial.

WHAT MY MOTHER AND I DON'T TALK ABOUT

FIFTEEN WRITERS BREAK THE SILENCE

Fifteen essayists—many luminaries—write unflinchingly about their mothers.

From the first page of the introduction, where editor Filgate—an MFA student at NYU and contributing editor at Literary Hub—names cooking as a way of staying connected to the mother she doesn’t talk to very often, this collection is honest and riveting. Kiese Laymon writes about the difference between loving someone and loving how that someone makes you feel, while Carmen Maria Machado explores how her feelings about the mother from whom she’s estranged shape her thoughts about having, or not having, children herself. In her sharp contribution, Lynn Steger Strong considers what she cannot find a way to say about the anger she feels toward her mother. Julianna Baggott describes being her mother’s “confessor.” André Aciman’s ruminations about his mother’s deafness also serve as odes to language and bodies and communication. Brandon Taylor illuminates the experience of cancer and examines his lack of empathy for his mother, and Leslie Jamison rounds out the collection with a loving piece in which she attempts to “project my admiration back through time to reassure the woman my mom had been, that woman who felt only that she had somehow failed the man who loved her first—that women who did not know, could not have known, the road ahead.” Most of the essays are pointedly literary and lyrical; many include meta-reflections on the nature of truth-telling, and the narrators show themselves thinking and rethinking the claims they hazard and then revise about their mothers. For the most part, the collection avoids cliché and sentimentality; equally remarkable, each one of these intimate and gut-wrenching essays reaches beyond itself to forge connections with readers. Other contributors include Alexander Chee, Melissa Febos, and Sari Botton.

Moving Mother’s Day reading for the fearless and brave—though some readers may want to have their therapist on speed-dial.

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982107-34-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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