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Nostalgia is a complicated version of love, Peters reveals in this elegiac memoir, which can threaten to fade the vivid...

Recollections of place evoke ghosts, shadows and nostalgia.

Peters (English/Stern Coll., Yeshiva Univ.) grew up in Wisconsin in a quirky house designed and built by her father. Perched on a hill overlooking woods and farms, the house reappears as the central image in the author’s lyrical memoir—not just of her family and childhood, but of her lifelong struggle to reconcile “the call to take root, the call to set forth.” After leaving Wisconsin, Peters lived in New York City, bringing with her expectations gleaned from movies, TV and, most of all, books. Her search for an apartment, for example, prompted memories of reading William Dean Howells’ A Hazard of New Fortunes; her walks down Fifth Avenue recalled Henry James’ The American Scene. Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser, William Maxwell and, most movingly, New Yorker writer Maeve Brennan all hover, as Peters considers what place meant to them and how their rendering of homes, landscapes and cityscapes shaped her responses. Living on her own in New York, she moved often: Real estate became an obsession, and each space she inhabited became a text to parse. When newly married, she and her husband found a charming apartment in a Brooklyn brownstone, where Peters quickly steeped herself in the history of the building and the neighborhood. Although her mother exhorted her to “live in the healthy present,” Peters felt drawn powerfully to the past. “Before you even walk in a room, you’re remembering it,” her husband once remarked. The author confesses that her veneration of history has led to some “back in the day” complaining, but she has come to understand that despite attachment to a home or intimacy with a beloved landscape, she is, inevitably, a transient—“a steward, not an owner” of place.

Nostalgia is a complicated version of love, Peters reveals in this elegiac memoir, which can threaten to fade the vivid present to a sepia-toned past.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-299-29620-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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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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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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