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A warmhearted, revelatory composite portrait.

Actors, writers, directors, critics, and producers remember a beloved friend.

Esquire editor Carter and Vanity Fair contributing editor Kashner (When I Was Cool: My Life at the Jack Kerouac School, 2004, etc.) bring together reminiscences about filmmaker, director, and comedian Mike Nichols (1931-2014), gleaned from interview transcripts and conversations with more than 100 of his famous friends, including Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Bob Newhart, Jules Feiffer, Cynthia Nixon, and Tom Hanks. Their remarks and anecdotes, organized to chronicle Nichols’ life and career, cohere into a candid, intimate portrayal of a man they loved and admired. “I was always in awe of Mike,” Woody Allen admitted, for both his talent and charm. Many echoed Anjelica Huston in remarking on his “incredible capacity for friendship that makes you think you’re absolutely unique.” Candice Bergen, who found him intimidating at first, praised him for trying to make everyone feel comfortable: “He paid attention to you, which people of success and achievement and intellect rarely do.” Nichols long struggled with feeling like an outsider. Born Igor Mikhail Peschkowsky, he left Germany with his family in 1939, knowing no English. When he was 5, probably in response to illness, he lost all his hair, an affliction that deeply embarrassed him; as an adult, he wore specially made hair and eyebrow pieces. His career began as an entertainer; friends recall his synergy with Elaine May, who “liberated Mike’s unconscious” to inform their “side-splitting and irresistible” comedy improvisations. “God, they’re amazing,” Robin Williams once remarked. Nichols fell into depression after their split, until he was lured into directing, teaming with Neil Simon for Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple. “Mike had a fabulous gift for staging, an instinct for what would work on Broadway,” Allen recalled, and a sure eye for choosing scripts and casts: Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, for example, and Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Nichols’ attitudes about money, fame, art, and marriage all emerge from the contributors’ wide-ranging recollections.

A warmhearted, revelatory composite portrait.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-11287-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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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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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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