Chast’s voice and vision make this a singular love letter to a singular city.

GOING INTO TOWN

A LOVE LETTER TO NEW YORK

The highly regarded New Yorker cartoonist lets readers see the city she loves through her eyes.

As Chast (Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, 2014, etc.) notes early on, this isn’t a guidebook—though it could help Manhattan newcomers navigate the streets and the subways. The narrative is really about how an artist sees and how New York is such a treasure trove for the senses. “Maybe one day you will notice the amazing variety of standpipes,” writes the author on one of the pages illustrated with photos rather than drawings. “The more you notice them…the more you will see.” So it is with the rest of Manhattan, where there is so much to discover; even an artist with a sharp eye and a discerning sensibility can never come close to exhausting the inspiration. Chast explains that she left her native Brooklyn for suburbia for the usual family reasons—an affordable house, better schools, neighborhood safety—but that her love for the city has never diminished. She began this work “as a small booklet I made for my daughter before she left her home in Suburbia to attend college in Manhattan.” The result mixes some of the practical advice she must have offered her daughter with a bit of memoir and plenty of sociocultural observation (though she pays less attention to the city’s people than its resources and attractions). Chast makes development as an artist and her experience in the city seem inseparable. “I’ve always preferred cities to Nature,” she writes. “I am interested in the person-made. I like to watch and eavesdrop on people. And I really like DENSITY OF VISUAL INFORMATION.” Such density—and the details of visual information—consistently informs her work. The author also underscores the point that even Central Park, that leafy oasis that comprises 6 percent of the island, is actually man-made: “It contains lots of Nature, but is no more ‘natural’ than an arrangement of flowers from your neighborhood florist.”

Chast’s voice and vision make this a singular love letter to a singular city.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62040-321-1

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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