Chandler wrote not about crime or detection, as George V. Higgins observed, but about the corruption of the human spirit....

THE WORLD OF RAYMOND CHANDLER

IN HIS OWN WORDS

Day (The Letters of Noel Coward, 2007, etc.) lets peerless mystery writer Raymond Chandler reveal himself through his own words—and in those of his fictional creation Philip Marlowe—while contributing structure, comment and a useful amount of connective tissue.

For someone so associated with the American patois, it is ironic that Chandler generally thought of himself as a classically educated “Englishman” imbued with British tastes. Day demonstrates how the Chicago-born author, a resident of England for much of his youth, had to “learn American just like a foreign language,” both customs and vernacular. Chandler was taken with the pungency of American English, admiring how it “roughed up” and enlivened the language, as Shakespeare had done. Day then shows how character, language and style superseded plot in Chandler's fiction, unlike such shallow avatars of construction as Agatha Christie. Though a man of comparatively modest literary output, Chandler mused extensively on writing in letters to colleagues and friends. Day connects Chandler's signature ideas and impulses most effectively in this correspondence. While he disclaims biographical intent, such elements abound in the book. Chandler was repatriated to Los Angeles in 1912, and the city would become as much a character in his novels as Marlowe, his alter ego. Foremost, Chandler was a sultan of similes. Delightful as they often are, however, Day drowns us in a deluge of them. Like Chandler, Day also betrays a faint whiff of condescension toward American culture—not without some justification—but he is wholly sympathetic in charting Chandler's long, happy marriage to a woman 18 years his senior, his devastation over her death and his accelerated alcoholism.

Chandler wrote not about crime or detection, as George V. Higgins observed, but about the corruption of the human spirit. Day deepens our understanding of how Chandler, who cared for his legacy, balanced commitment to principle with living and prospering in the real world.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-35236-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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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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