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A 9/11 DIARY

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An intimate memoir of love and loss in the shadow of 9/11.

On September 11, 2001, art historian Frey (Toulouse-Lautrec: A Life, 1995) and her husband, novelist Ronald Sukenick, lived in Battery Park City, where, from their 26th-floor apartment across from the World Trade Center, they witnessed that day’s terrorist attacks. This book is Frey’s diary-style account of the events of 9/11 and the six months that followed, which she endured while caring for her terminally ill partner. Her descriptions of the attacks and the chaotic evacuation of area residents are vivid, bringing immediacy to events most know only through pictures. Later, after she returns home, military checkpoints isolate her shattered neighborhood from the rest of Manhattan, while outside there’s a scene of unbearable devastation, as workers sift through rubble in a bleak search for the dead. At this point, Frey delves deeper, exploring the long-term impact of 9/11 and the challenges of caring for the frequently irascible Ronald, whose illness—inclusion body myositis—severely limits his mobility. While Frey strives to remain strong under increasing pressure, she begins to crack when faced with the constant presence of Ground Zero, the strain of supporting a failing spouse and the stress of a complicated love triangle. The disaster area outside her windows mirrors her mental distress; she compares her anger to “fire in the ruins.” As the book progresses, however, some of Frey’s readers may begin to lose patience, echoing the complaint of one friend that Frey has become “self-absorbed and obsessive.” Still, Frey resists the temptation to paint herself as a saint, instead writing with candor about her guilt, depression, fear and impatience, while also conveying her commitment to her husband, marriage and forging a path back to normalcy. While Frey’s writing is solid, if not spectacular, the book’s real power is its unflinchingly honest—if occasionally uncomfortable—discussion of the painful realities of love, illness and death. Engaging and candid; an insightful look at how one woman copes with personal and national trauma.


Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-1461138242

Page Count: 280

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

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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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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