Didn't think you’d ever feel even an ounce of sympathy for—let alone root for—a drunken adman, did you? Meet Mr. Burroughs.

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DRY

A MEMOIR

Like the alcohol he so enjoys, Burroughs’s story of getting dry will go straight into your bloodstream and leave you buzzing, exhilarated, and wiped out.

Burroughs is a malcontented, successful advertising copywriter: in his 20s, gay, living in Manhattan, and owner of a childhood that the word “nightmare” doesn't even begin to cover (as described in Running With Scissors, 2002). Burroughs is an alcoholic, a true-blue, two-fisted, drink-till-you-see-the-spiders-on-the-wall alcoholic. He is not, as he would say, the man you’d want operating the cotton gin—he is funny and dark. This is his story of trying to keep the next drink from coming. Declaring he's “vain and shallow”—“If I were straight, I am certain I would be one of those guys who goes to wet T-shirt contests and votes with great enthusiasm”—he’s quick to strike a pose to admire his silhouette; but in his own half-mad way, he's an original, a step aslant of the cutting edge, and wonderfully capable of expressing the miseries and sublimities of detox. It starts with his agreement—dry out, or get fired—to enter rehab; he chooses a gay clinic in Minnesota: “a rehab hospital run by fags will be hip. Plus there's the possibility of good music and sex.” Reality quickly intrudes when the clinic staff checks him for cologne (“Oh, you'd be surprised by the things alcoholics will try and sneak in here to drink”) and proceeds along a circuitous path thereafter, with plenty of opportunities for cliffhanging—bad decisions in his love life; a coworker trying to sabotage his efforts to reform; AA abandonment; his best friend's death; the “alcoholic terrorist” in his head—weaving in and out of gallows humor and a honed starkness. In the end, it's all up to Burroughs, and to give the end away would be criminal, for this memoir operates on a high level of involvement and suspense.

Didn't think you’d ever feel even an ounce of sympathy for—let alone root for—a drunken adman, did you? Meet Mr. Burroughs.

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-312-27205-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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