The book could have been trimmed by about 50 pages, but Hart is a genial, entertaining guide to a life in comedy.

I CAN'T MAKE THIS UP

LIFE LESSONS

The popular comedian debuts with “the stories behind the jokes, and a few lessons…about life, success, parenting, and relationships.”

In his first book, Hart spares little detail about his personal and profession life. He chronicles his childhood with an absent father and protective mother, his toxic first marriage, and his rise to fame, punctuating each section with a lesson. Growing up in Philadelphia, the author wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. He watched his brother get kicked out of the house for selling drugs and being violent with his mother, experiences that reverberated through his teen years. His mother worked hard to give her children a decent life, and she kept Hart busy with after-school activities to make sure he was never alone to get into trouble like his brother. He assumed his mother’s work ethic and diligence, and when he found stand-up comedy, it consumed him. Unfortunately, while he was pursuing his dream, shuttling between Philadelphia and New York, his relationship with Torrei, his first love and first wife, suffered. Comedy nerds will love the details about the author’s climb up the ladder, and the sections on his adopted family at the Comedy Cellar and his relationship with fellow comedian Keith Robinson give great insight into the life of a comic who is constantly working to get better. There are some nasty personal details about Hart’s relationship with Torrei and how, according to him, it became mutually abusive, ever more so with the pressure of an advancing career and children. Some of the author’s lessons border on platitudes—e.g., believe in yourself, shrug off the bad stuff and move forward—and the tales about how he learned these things sometimes render the breakdowns at the ends of the sections unnecessary. But Hart is an incredibly magnetic storyteller, on the page as he is onstage, and that’s what shines through here.

The book could have been trimmed by about 50 pages, but Hart is a genial, entertaining guide to a life in comedy. 

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5556-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: 37 Ink/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 9, 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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