In 1988, Corman contributed an essay to the New York Times Magazine on his Bronx neighborhood, which he reprints here....



Corman (The Boyfriend from Hell, 2006, etc.) returns to the place he fictionalized in The Old Neighborhood (1980) in this affectionate recollection of his youth.

In the 1940s and ’50s, the Bronx was a safe, diverse and vibrant community. In short chapters, each just a few pages long, the author reminiscences about playing stickball and basketball, rooting for baseball teams, spending long afternoons at one of the neighborhood’s many movie houses, reading comic books in the local candy store, visiting the zoo, trying to learn to ice skate with a friend who wanted to impress a girl, and going to school. Corman was a middling student, good in English and history, struggling in math and science. He recalls with resentment the heartlessness of a few teachers. Although there is a generic quality to many of his recollections, his family life was far from ordinary: His father had abandoned him, his mother and sister when Corman was 5, and he was told while growing up that he was dead. Much later, his mother confessed the truth—that his father had failed financially, run off in shame and even pleaded with his mother to join him when he landed a job in the South. But she refused, and the couple divorced. Corman and his family lived with his aunt and uncle, who were deaf mutes. With no special interests or talents, the author decided to get a business degree with the goal of working in advertising. When he realized that the advertising industry would not hire a Jew from the Bronx, he turned to business writing and then to writing scripts for an educational film company. With the encouragement of a friend, he also worked on his first novel, Oh God!, which he published in 1971.

In 1988, Corman contributed an essay to the New York Times Magazine on his Bronx neighborhood, which he reprints here. Lively and concise, it contrasts with the bland and fragmented quality of the rest of the memoir.

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-56980-518-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Barricade

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.



In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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