A hopeful and heart-gladdening memoir.



Meck cobbles together fragments of her life after a traumatic brain injury.

Living with her husband, Jim, and their two toddler boys in Texas, the author’s life changed dramatically in 1988 when a ceiling fan fell on her head. She passed out, and the paramedic’s penlight showed one dilated pupil, one shrunk, and no response to pricks to her fingers and toes. Meck slipped into a coma, and the family prepared for her passing, but she pulled through. However, she had full loss of her episodic memory (recollections of specific events from one’s lived experience) and a good portion of her semantic memory (the recollection of facts; she had about a 100-word vocabulary and was confounded by a fork), and her procedural memory was about as developed as a reptile’s. Meck’s narrative, written with the assistance of award-winning journalist de Visé, moves forward in fits and starts; for years, she lived in a hazy world, unable to read (she learned along with her sons), falling out of chairs, suffering bouts of dizziness and blackouts, and forgetting faces almost instantaneously, including her husband's and children’s. She tried in vain to mimic other peoples’ actions, and she could not discern the function of a hairbrush or how a drinking cup works. Meck relates these tortured years of slowly gathering herself together, then dropping a step or two back, with an unmodulated inflection. She was baffled by routine, feigned comprehension, was pained by sex—though she did have the saving grace of a fast blossoming of love between mother and children. There has been progress on many fronts, she writes, but most days are still a struggle. “Part of me realizes that I will never really know exactly what I was like before my head injury,” she writes, “but another part of me stubbornly refuses to give up as I try desperately to fit pieces together in an ever-changing life-size puzzle.”

A hopeful and heart-gladdening memoir.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4516-8581-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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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 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...


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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