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The book inevitably creates a desire to hear Mitchell’s music and perhaps try to track down some of her artwork, which at...

A patchwork collection of writing spanning Joni Mitchell’s legendary career.

Veteran British music journalist Hoskyns (Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits, 2009, etc.), co-founder and editorial director of the online library Rock’s Backpages, compiles a wide range of journalism about the Canadian-born singer/songwriter, visual artist, and cultural icon. As the editor writes in the introduction, she is “peerless and untouchable as a singer-songwriter of intricate lyrics and swoopingly beautiful melodies.” Hoskyns works with a light touch, serving more as a curator than editor (though he includes a couple of his own pieces) in this chronological path through Mitchell’s long, respected, but sometimes-bumpy life and career. The pieces run a wide range: reviews of albums and performances, essays and profiles, interviews and features, and even some ad copy. Due to Hoskyns’ British roots, the selections show a nice trans-Atlantic bent. However, they are drawn from a somewhat narrow range of publications and feature a roughly 4-to-1 male-to-female ratio of contributors, almost all of whom are white. As with any such anthology, the quality varies. There are some quite excellent contributions and some really lousy ones, but in the aggregate, they provide a strong sense of the artistic, intellectual, and personal development of someone who has always chafed at being branded a folk singer and who grew frustrated with the recording industry and critical reception of much of her work after her late-1960s-to-mid-’70s heyday. Those who choose to read from beginning to end will find a lot of repetition; this is the sort of collection that lends itself to dipping in and out of.

The book inevitably creates a desire to hear Mitchell’s music and perhaps try to track down some of her artwork, which at the end of the day are the reason the book exists in the first place.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-14862-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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