A FARM DIES ONCE A YEAR

A MEMOIR

Most interesting to aspiring organic farmers.

A down-to-earth account of life on New Morning Farm, to which Crawford, the rather aimless son of the owners, returned for one season, searching for some direction in his own unsatisfactory life.

When he was 31, Crawford, who grew up on the family’s 75-acre organic vegetable farm in Pennsylvania, gave up his administrative job at the Fogg Museum at Harvard, arriving at New Morning in late May. After a shaky beginning, the author joined the other farm workers in their physically demanding daily chores. “The place had always made me a little anxious,” he writes. “It was so isolated and lonely, and the work there was so intense.” Woven into this almost-coming-of-age narrative are Crawford’s memories of growing up on the farm and what he has learned about his parents’ early days there. For part of the season, his amiable girlfriend, who seemed somewhat more challenged by farm life than he, joined him, sharing a rude shelter he single-handedly built for them some distance from the main farmhouse. In his spare time, Crawford looked into the murder of a neighboring farmer that occurred nearly 20 years before. Crawford’s account of the work on the farm is matter-of-fact and clear, and his portraits of his hardworking, middle-aged parents are sharp. When he looks inward, however, the picture is more opaque. In the fall, his girlfriend left the farm for San Francisco, and shortly after Christmas, he joined her there, working in a natural foods store, still not sure where his life was going or even where he wanted it to go. “I still hadn’t solved the problem of what I wanted to do with my life,” writes the author. “I was coming to the realization that it would probably be with me forever, and that it was a problem that I likely shared with every other person on earth.”

Most interesting to aspiring organic farmers.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9816-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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

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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