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“Caring for parents has become the new normal for boomers,” writes Morris. Readers will likely find other books on the topic...

A journalist’s memoir of coming to terms with the aging and deaths of his parents.

This book fits into what has become a genre unto itself, as baby boomers have reached the age where they are taking care of the parents who once took care of them, and advances of modern medicine have allowed some of those parents to live longer. By his own admission, Morris (Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad2008, etc.) was not a model caregiver, deferring much of that responsibility to his brother, and his parents weren’t what he would “have ordered from a parent catalogue.” The prelude to this “personal chronicle of ending” suggests that the book was inspired by the example of an acquaintance whose doting on his elderly parents stood in stark contrast to the author’s self-centeredness toward unwanted responsibilities and distractions. A travel writer, he found his trip to Scotland to sample Scotch ruined by the pleas from his brother to return home because their mother was dying. He didn’t want to interrupt his trip, but he could no longer enjoy it. His brother, to whom the book is dedicated, was “the family’s morality meter,” while the author was “more the wicked one…prodigal, cynical, and irresponsible.” After his mother’s death, his father embarked on a romance that seemed to revitalize him (and provided material for a theatrical performance the author mounted), but then he declined again. As the author tried to help his father through his depression and suffered the trials of caregiving, he sometimes seemed to wish his father had succeeded with his suicide attempt. “I’m all for the simple solution, the easy exit,” he says. Even his father complained about his son’s lack of commitment and compassion.

“Caring for parents has become the new normal for boomers,” writes Morris. Readers will likely find other books on the topic more illuminating and inspirational.

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4555-5650-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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