A practiced explorer in the age-old search for sunlit youth, the author here proves himself a sentimental gentleman of rock...

WHEN WE GET TO SURF CITY

A JOURNEY THROUGH AMERICA IN PURSUIT OF ROCK AND ROLL, FRIENDSHIP, AND DREAMS

Journalist Greene (And You Know You Should Be Glad: A True Story of Lifelong Friendship, 2006, etc.) reports on 15 summers playing with a venerable rock ’n’ roll band.

In 1992, the author was permitted to join the ex-boys in a hot rod/surfers’ band headed by Jan and Dean, survivors in the world of touring oldies packages. Greene traveled and sang and picked with the summer soldiers, whom he came to admire greatly. The California lost boys played “Surfin’ USA” and “Honolulu Lulu” in Elko, Nev., and Blue Ash, Ohio, in fairgrounds, stadiums and casinos. They belted “Little Deuce Coupe” in Lac du Flambeau, Wis., and Burgettstown, Pa., and sang “Ride the Wild Surf” in Cassopolis, Mich., in Fort Wayne, Cambridge and Roanoke. There were overnights in Quality, Best Western, La Quinta, Holiday and Hampton Inns, rations of local ice cream, barbecue and cheeseburgers, the fare at White Castles and Waffle Houses. In the heartland, they encountered Elvis impersonators and the real Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry. And they met America. The devoted fans, the rotten gigs and the music were all wonderful. Greene sings of the music and of the brotherhood. He paints moving portraits of Dean Torrence and especially Jan Berry, who suffered grievous injury in a car crash some four decades ago. Underlying the celebration of the band’s skill and perseverance is the poignant story of Jan’s slow fade and Dean’s affectionate care of his partner. Greene’s memoir is, after all, a love story. He recalls the great guitar licks and the happy crowds of those treasured warm-weather months, regularly evoking to good effect “the promise of summer days and summer nights.”

A practiced explorer in the age-old search for sunlit youth, the author here proves himself a sentimental gentleman of rock ’n’ roll.

Pub Date: May 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-37529-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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