Dwight’s wholesome love for his family and friends, and the life lessons they’ve offered, makes for an engaging account of...

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In this inspirational memoir, Dwight transforms everyday lessons into essential wisdom.

Dwight, an inspirational public speaker and life coach, compiled this memoir from 50 mini essays, but it’s really a book of tiny epiphanies. Through intimate interactions with family and friends—he’s twice married and the father of three teenage daughters—Dwight experienced deeply significant life lessons that belied their simplicity. His disarming sincerity and gentle humor serve to smooth the ordinary friction of relationship-building. In one particularly illuminating essay, Dwight relates his suggestion to his daughters that they ignore their personal electronics for a weekend to experience how tech-free time could enhance their face-to-face social interactions. Dwight puts himself to the same test—he discovers, somewhat surprisingly, that he had forgotten the value of direct human contact beyond the glowing rectangles that now possess our lives. That lesson resonates in his description of his church’s mission to the Dominican Republic, where he marvels at the simple joy experienced by people in material poverty but with psychological and spiritual contentment. In this midlife perspective, Dwight pays tribute to all the people who inspired him, especially his second wife. The closing portion of the book is a hymn of praise for his spouse—he proudly details the upward trajectory of her military career that culminated in her appointment as a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. His pride assumes added gravitas since, as a former Marine, he recognizes the formidable challenges inherent to military service. While written in a highly readable style aimed at a mass audience—references to popular films abound—readers may be surprised by the frequent steps out of Dwight’s chronology. People and events scramble through Dwight’s narrative, which could leave readers lost and in need of a simple timeline of his life. Yet that complaint fades if the book is considered not a conventional memoir, but a random set of inspiring, character-building moments.

Dwight’s wholesome love for his family and friends, and the life lessons they’ve offered, makes for an engaging account of one man’s life well lived.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983941804

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Tagral

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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