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A no-holds-barred coming-of-age story replete with mental illness, drugs and sex.

Indie singer and reality-TV star Large unloads stories about her volatile life.

Best recognized as a contender on Rock Star: Supernova, Large has the heart of a true exhibitionist. She wrote and starred in a short-lived one-woman show off-Broadway, but this project marks her first literary foray, and her memoir pulls no punches. The book opens with the author's girlhood revelation about her hypersexuality, and goes on to describe her emotional, messy relationship with her mentally ill mother. Now in her early 40s, Large writes with brutal honesty about visiting her mother in mental hospitals, as well as being told by doctors that she would grow up to be just like her. That prediction had an enormous effect on her psyche, and she came out swinging against every part of herself she identified as being similar to her mother. Defensive to the point of violence, she was picked on at school, and she perpetuated mean gossip by acting out in ways that included profligate drug use and having sex with strangers from a very early age. "When I was high I felt like a rock star," Large writes—although after she began to develop her singing talent, it became acting like a rock star that led her to feel like one. She eventually fled New York and now lives in Portland, and she regularly tours with full-time musicians. The author’s prose is casual and vernacular, rife with descriptions that are not for the faint of heart. Though not necessarily likable, she comes across as authentic and unapologetic.

A no-holds-barred coming-of-age story replete with mental illness, drugs and sex.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4391-9240-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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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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