AM I OLD YET?

THE STORY OF TWO WOMEN, GENERATIONS APART, GROWING UP AND GROWING YOUNG IN A TIMELESS FRIENDSHIP

A moving, enlightening, and humorous memoir of the friendship between two women, aged 44 and 94. Komaiko is divorced and childless, the author of 18 children’s books, who, as a forever-young Dylan fan, fears aging and mortality. She finds that L.A., the “liposuction capital of the universe,” is the wrong place in which to hit middle age. Burnt out and despairing for her lost youth, she decides to look her future in the eye and volunteers to “adopt” an elderly woman in a senior residence, to whom she pays regular visits. She’s matched up with a blind woman in her 90s. But Adele is courageous, full of youthful enthusiasm and intelligence, and has a full “memory bank” that affords her a rich life of recollection: her mother worked with suffragette Susan B. Anthony and helped start the A&P company. But in this warm book about aging and friendship, Adele is most remarkable for reviving the spirits and youth of the woman who thought she would be comforting a lonely person waiting to die. Komaiko’s sense of humor prevents the memoir from warming one’s heart to the point of cardiac arrest, with earthy descriptions of the aged people she meets (she calls one woman “bulldozer in a muumuu—). The author begins by pitying and fearing these “people who had to give up their homes [and] waited to move into their plots,” but she ends up coming often to see her new friend, who serves as inspiration and surrogate grandma. The memoir turns maudlin by the end (“doing for others is what makes life worth it”), but by then, we—re every bit as hooked on Adele as Komaiko. The author rediscovers not only friendship, but romance as well. Komaiko has written a poignant memoir that turns despair into joy.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-58238-048-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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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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