Laskas is an endearing, scrambled character, her swarming thoughts torturing readers as they torture her.

THE EXACT SAME MOON

FIFTY ACRES AND A FAMILY

A chattery yet appealing return to the turf of Fifty Acres and a Poodle (2000): the author’s life on and off Sweetwater Farm in Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania.

No longer plagued by country mouse/city mouse doubts, Laskas is taking to her rural existence. “I am really happy,” she writes, simple words so many wish they could say. “I love living here. Driving around, you feel like you've entered a very good dream.” Then, to her husband Alex, “I'm happy. I'm madly in love with you. I often feel like the luckiest person alive to have this life.” By now, readers are getting the point: (1) Laskas is happy; (2) she likes to cover the ground thoroughly, like a blue tick working a scent. Inevitably, there is a snake in her Eden: her mother’s sudden paralysis. Laskas, the youngest child in her family, is hit broadside, seeing Mom as a “helpless bird” and herself as the “Utterly Useless Sister” (though her bedside presence is anything but). As her mother recovers, Laskas notices that “the more I stand here caring for my mother, the more of her helplessness I see, the more mother I seem to become.” The 40-year-old author wants a child of her own, but her eggs aren't what they used to be, nor is her 50-something husband’s sperm. Difficult as it is, Laskas manages to find the humor in failed in-vitro fertilization: “And my story, at the moment, is a used needle in a Wal-Mart bathroom.” (It’s a long story.) The couple decides to adopt a Chinese child, and no matter how tired readers are of the author’s mutts and neighbors, they will probably fall hard for her first meeting with her daughter. “Right. I know what to do. Of course I do. Here goes. This is what a mother does. I open my arms, and she falls in.”

Laskas is an endearing, scrambled character, her swarming thoughts torturing readers as they torture her.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2003

ISBN: 0-553-80263-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2003

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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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