Those who are already fans will appreciate the few revelations here.

An eclectic Los Angeles rock band of the 1970s that deserved a much larger following isn’t likely to reach one through this serviceable biography.

The first book ever about Little Feat leaves little doubt that this was a singular band—hailed by the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Bonnie Raitt and even the Rolling Stones as arguably the best ever. Yet the biographical minutiae and recording details gathered here fail to capture the magic that would elevate a band whose members didn’t get along into a unit that was so much more than the sum of the parts. To be fair to veteran rock journalist Fong-Torres (Eagles: Taking It to the Limit, 2011, etc.), there are a number of challenges facing anyone trying to tell this story: memories blurred by drugs and time, differing perspectives, the creative relationship of the rest of the band to its talented, tormented frontman, Lowell George. “The story of Little Feat is the story of Lowell George—that’s not in debate,” writes the author. “But it is also the story of the other guys who made up the original quartet and who, from the beginning, helped create the music and set the tone of Little Feat.” It’s actually as much the story of those who joined the band after that original quartet (only one of whom is still making music), pushing the band’s music away from its native LA and more toward the great American South (particularly New Orleans). But the book is mainly about George, who could be both charming and duplicitous, genius and difficult, and who had either quit the band or was fired when he died (under somewhat mysterious circumstances) in 1979 at age 34.  The band eventually soldiered on for longer without George than the tumultuous decade with him, but his death let the air out of the tires—in both the band’s career and this book.

Those who are already fans will appreciate the few revelations here.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-306-82131-8

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013


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



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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