Altogether a grand entertainment, effortlessly blending pop culture and high culture.

NICHE

A MEMOIR IN PASTICHE

When in doubt, let David Bowie narrate your autobiography.

“It’s a strange world wherever you are.” So says Graham Greene as filtered through Momus, the pseudonym of Scottish pop musician Nicholas Currie. Born in 1960, Momus has been writing and making music for decades, yet he isn’t particularly well known except perhaps among fans of Vampire Weekend. It’s fitting, therefore, that he put writers and musicians better known than he to work in telling his life story. “Dead writers are unemployed,” he writes at the beginning. “It’s a shame, because they could be put to better use than rotting and being forgotten.” Benjamin Spock, the guiding light of the parents of boomers everywhere, turns up early to assure readers that because “children given autonomy will tend to become adult of their own accord,” his mother did just right to allow N—so he’s addressed throughout, akin to a certain literary K—to push the books in the bookshelves around as he crawled. Sigmund Freud shows up to validate an early expression of carnal interest while hard-boiled detective novelist Mickey Spillane is on hand to deliver a few nicely cynical lines about the nature of life. Some of the “pastiches” are less effective than others. For example, a longish contribution attributed to Ernest Hemingway doesn’t sound in the least bit Hemingway-esque as it recounts what it was like to be in New York on 9/11. Some are overstuffed, as when Karl Kraus, the Viennese satirist, delivers a soliloquy that draws in the biologist Ernst Haeckel, DSL technology, the iPhone, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Lord Haw-Haw, among others. Still, the appearance by David Bowie, N’s “lodestar, the single most decisive influence on his life,” is lovely, and it will make those who share the author’s love for him miss Bowie all the more as “life goes on in its innocent, incorrigible way.”

Altogether a grand entertainment, effortlessly blending pop culture and high culture.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-14408-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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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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