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AT THE STRANGERS' GATE

ARRIVALS IN NEW YORK

Not exactly a Horatio Alger story but an engaging tale of a writer finding his way in work and life.

A longtime New Yorker contributor writes about his early years in the city—the 1980s principally—ruminating about art and artists, love and apartments, writing and reading and speaking, and the city that he loves.

Gopnik—the author of numerous works on sundry subjects (The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, 2011, etc.)—returns with an affecting memoir about his many dawns: his love life (there is much here about Martha, his wife of many years), writing career, and friendships with significant figures such as Richard Avedon and Jeff Koons. This is a highly allusive text, with references ranging across the cultural landscape, from Anthony Trollope to X-Men, from Falstaff and Prince Hall to professor Irwin Corey. But Gopnik will engage most firmly those interested in the art world of the 1980s. He studied art history, worked as a docent at the Museum of Modern Art, and did his earliest publishing in art magazines. Later, he moved to GQ, where he wrote about men’s fashion, then to Knopf as an editor before settling in at the New Yorker, his promised land. The text is also an extensive love letter to his wife—and includes a carefully erotic section about their sex life and about sex among married people in general. Throughout, readers will become aware of the author’s great fortune in his career: meeting important people, acquiring jobs that even he knew he was not qualified for—e.g., Knopf and editing. However, Gopnik retains an appealing modesty throughout and has some very entertaining stories to tell, including one about an invasion of rats in their loft (some foul secrets of the city, he learns, lie below).

Not exactly a Horatio Alger story but an engaging tale of a writer finding his way in work and life.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4000-4180-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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NIGHT

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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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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