As a study in creativity, superb, though as memoir, partial and a touch reluctant. Whatever the case, essential for any...

READ REVIEW

I AM BRIAN WILSON

A MEMOIR

Everyone’s favorite musical mad scientist reveals a troubled yet hopeful life.

Famously, as depicted in the recent film Love & Mercy, Wilson stopped touring with his band, the Beach Boys, after suffering a panic attack while on a flight to Houston in 1964. He did not retreat—not yet, anyway—from music, spending the next year thinking about what kinds of songs he wanted to write and whether pop had any sonic boundaries beyond which one could not travel. “I couldn’t really think of any limits,” he writes, and so emerged “Pet Sounds,” “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” and other resonant wonders. At the same time, and ever since, Wilson has battled mental illness, a malady with a clear genetic lineage, as well as the effects of abuse at the hands of his father, his psychiatrist, and the less angelic voices in his head. Chasing down his sonic visions is a matter that Wilson treats with some mystery. As he writes, he saw bits and pieces of melody go swimming by like goldfish: “They dart one way and you see a little flash of orange, but you don’t really know whether they’re coming or going.” Wilson writes as he speaks, haltingly and with a kind of sideways hesitancy born, he tells it, from being deafened by a blow from his father’s fist—which has had one salutary effect, though giving him a lopsided appearance, namely that he writes in mono: “I can only hear out of one side, which means that it’s already mixed down.” Readers seeking a tell-all will find instead delicate, thoughtful reflections on how music is made as well as wistful remembrances of Wilson’s dead brothers and band mates Carl and Dennis. When the usual villain of the Beach Boys story, Mike Love, is mentioned, it is only briefly, and then usually in connection to some legal action or another.

As a study in creativity, superb, though as memoir, partial and a touch reluctant. Whatever the case, essential for any Beach Boys fan.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-306-82306-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more