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ALL GONE

A MEMOIR OF MY MOTHER'S DEMENTIA. WITH REFRESHMENTS.

Warm and always humane, Witchel's narrative is a poignant, candid reminder of the new normal that now defines so many adult...

A journalist's bittersweet memoir about coping with her mother's dementia by preparing her mother's recipes.

When New York Times Magazine food columnist and novelist Witchel (The Spare Wife, 2008, etc.) discovered her college-professor mother was ill with dementia, she was shocked. The woman who had successfully managed to juggle marriage, motherhood and a career had also hidden her deteriorating health from her family. Witchel was suddenly forced into the position of becoming a parent to a stubborn, strong-willed mother and watching her begin "the tortuous process of disappearing in plain sight.” Overwhelmed by this role-shift and the changes it brought into her life, the author sought comfort by making the meals her mother once prepared for the family, such as meatloaf, spaghetti, roast chicken and potato latkes. Childhood memories came flooding back. Witchel remembers her mother as a gifted woman who defied both familial and social expectations to construct a professional identity for herself; as an individual who "lived her life as an act of will," was the dominant force at home and expected nothing but the best from her children. Her father may have been "the ultimate authority,” but it was her mother who "ran the show.” She was also the person who guided her daughter toward the love of gastronomy that would eventually find expression in Witchel's work as a journalist.

Warm and always humane, Witchel's narrative is a poignant, candid reminder of the new normal that now defines so many adult child-aging parent relationships.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59448-791-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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