A sparkling, imaginative rendition of a literary classic.

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALICE B. TOKLAS ILLUSTRATED

Whimsical illustrations meet quirky prose in this tag-team reinvention of the iconic 1933 book.

An award-winning New Yorker illustrator, designer, and author, Kalman (Swami on Rye: Max in India, 2018, etc.) takes on the challenge of illustrating Stein’s iconic “auto” biography of her longtime companion Toklas. Even though it’s not as ambitious as Zak Smith’s Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow (2006) or Matt Kish’s Moby-Dick in Pictures (2011), Kalman’s 70-plus color illustrations, rendered in her distinctive playful and Fauve-esque style, perfectly reflect the artistic and intellectual world of Paris in the 1920s and ’30s. In a short afterword, written in Kalman’s distinctive script, she describes the book as a “love story” about how “two people, joined together, become themselves. They cannot breathe right without each other.” An accompanying illustration shows them sitting together at a table, Stein reading a book (aloud?), Toklas looking on (listening?). On the final page of the book, Stein notes that Toklas probably will not write her autobiography, so “I am going to write it for you….And she did and this is it.” On first meeting Stein, Toklas said there are a “great many things to tell of what was happening then….I must describe what I saw when I came.” With the current volume, we see what Kalman saw. Here’s Stein sitting in a bright yellow chair at her popular Paris home at 27 rue de Fleurus, Picasso’s famous portrait of Stein on the wall behind her. Luminaries came and went, all beautifully captured with Kalman’s bright brush strokes: Toulouse-Lautrec; Seurat, who “caught his fatal cold”; the “extraordinarily brilliant” Guillaume Apollinaire; William James, Stein’s former teacher; Marcel Duchamp (“everybody loved him)”; Isadora Duncan and Nijinsky; James Joyce and Sylvia Beach; Hemingway; the “beautiful” Edith Sitwell; and of course, Toklas, wearing one of her hats with “lovely artificial flowers” on top.

A sparkling, imaginative rendition of a literary classic.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59420-460-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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