MY NAME ESCAPES ME

THE DIARY OF A RETIRING ACTOR

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1997

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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