Next book


Madonna is renowned for reinventing herself, and the author can’t quite keep up. The overdetermined, central motif...

Journalist Victor (The Lady, 1998, etc.) has clearly spent years conducting interviews and compiling quotes from secondary sources for her examination into the life of pop-goddess Madonna.

She’s also done her best to tell a story intriguing enough to be a compelling read without resorting to tabloid-style sleaze-mongering. Despite these efforts, Victor doesn’t quite manage more than to circle her subject without ever truly capturing the woman, in the process producing little more than a prolonged Behind the Music script. The author assembles some interesting interview subjects, notably Madonna’s maternal grandmother and several of the star’s jilted lovers. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know which vignettes to condense in her fractured, sometimes repetitive chronology. After spending too much time on Madonna’s childhood, she builds up steam with an in-depth look at the performer’s rise to stardom. But when the narrative gets around to Madonna’s life after achieving celebrity, it becomes increasingly mundane; there’s little here that hasn’t been told before, and tired tales about Sean Penn and Sandra Bernhard can’t be made fresh again simply by adding exclamation marks. To Victor’s credit, she avoids the temptation to sensationalize Madonna’s numerous sexual exploits, exploring the star’s erotic liaisons, lesbian affairs, and abortions in a matter-of-fact way. And in a few instances, the intimate details Victor reveals—about Madonna’s mentor Christopher Flynn, ex-lover Carlos Leon, and current husband Guy Ritchie—show great insight into the singer’s public persona. Yet in all the time Victor spends explaining why Madonna wanted to be a star, and what people helped her become a star, she never adequately explores what Madonna actually became famous for: singing.

Madonna is renowned for reinventing herself, and the author can’t quite keep up. The overdetermined, central motif here—Madonna as Eva Perón—is already outdated.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-019930-X

Page Count: 432

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2001

Next book


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

Next book



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

Close Quickview