CRASH AND BURN

For Howard Stern devotees, the stoners who harassed members of the school band in the high school cafeteria, and all their...

A tedious tale of substance abuse told by a self-admitted opiate-addicted, self-loathing slob.

Comedian Lange (Too Fat to Fish, 2008), best known as a co-host on Howard Stern’s radio show, has made a lucrative career of being obnoxious. The author explains he was driven to make listeners laugh by “busting people’s chops” and boasts that his cocaine- and heroin-fueled tantrums on the air and train-wreck TV appearances were legendary. Written with the assistance of former Rolling Stone writer Bozza (co-author: Slash, 2007, etc.), Lange’s story has careened from bender to binge, with a few half-hearted attempts at getting straight. Considering his severely altered state during his two-year slide, his recall of how many Vicodin pills he smashed and snorted, and every prostitute he hired is remarkable. Throughout this overlong book, he remains aware of the grief he caused loved ones who tried to help him get better, but he's also proud of the heights of obnoxiousness he reached. To his credit, Lange doesn’t blame others for his becoming an addict, nor does he expect anyone to clean up the mess he made. But he is a contradiction, aware he feels equally shameful and proud of his wasted condition, and explains that he was driven by both greed and love for the drugs he hates. Ultimately, his stories of countless blackouts and emergency room visits become tiresome. Reading the book is like watching a fly bounce off the window screen after you open it, refusing to escape despite your encouragement and exasperation, and Lange’s self-indulgence makes it tough to feel much sympathy for him. He describes feeling “paralyzed with depression, guilt and embarrassment” after he moved in with his mother, but his repeated refusals to stay in treatment programs try readers’ patience.

For Howard Stern devotees, the stoners who harassed members of the school band in the high school cafeteria, and all their buddies doubled over with laughter beside them.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4767-6511-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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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