An amiable if unsurprising daily diary (covering all of 1995 and half of 1996) from the great British thespian. Now in his 80s and almost completely retired from stage and screen, Guinness (Blessings in Disguise, 1986) seems content to go gently into that good night. His days are pleasantly routine; he reads the morning papers, feeds the fish in his pond, walks with his dogs, and enjoys the occasional jaunt into London. After the cocktail hour and a hearty supper, he curls up with a good book or a BBC documentary on the telly. Occasionally he takes a flutter on the national lottery, hoping to hit it big and go on an art-buying spree. But the greatest excitement is provided by brief holidays on the continent. It's all very, very British, and undemanding anglophiles will find much to revel in here. On the evidence of the diary, it's clear that Guinness would make an admirable, extremely genial dinner guest, charming, intellectually curious, with a nice supply of mildly amusing anecdotes. But the general effect here is as comfortably worn as an old pair of slippers. Age is the great enemy of actors—it destroys the crucial ability to remember their lines, reducing them to smaller and smaller roles. This, and diminished energies, are why Guinness now rejects almost all the offers that come his way. Whether it's British phlegm or stoicism or both, he calmly suffers the many insults and indignities of his aging body—his blind eye, his diminished hearing, etc. In contrast to the memoirs of many American actors, there is little egocentrism and a great deal of intelligence and aesthetic sensitivity here, as well as a keenly literate style. Guinness truly enjoys good books, music, and art, and he remains an active playgoer. His diary may not make for gripping material, but it does seem to suggest an ideal way to spend one's retirement.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-670-87589-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1997


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



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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