What’s missing is humor. Every generation needs its Carrie Fisher, perhaps even its Hunter S. Thompson, but this isn’t it.

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HOW TO MURDER YOUR LIFE

A MEMOIR

A memoir of addiction and the millennial high life.

The short answer to the instruction implied in the title is this: do a lot of drugs, drink to excess, be flaky and unreliable on the job, and take stupid risks. A one-time junior fashionista—“I always wanted to be a beauty editor. To me, being a beauty editor was better than being president of the United States!”—Marnell checks off these obligations dutifully, having been trained by a childhood of privilege and bewildered, clueless parents (“My mom was in there—snooping!”). From the manicured suburbs to trendiest Manhattan is but a short step, with an infinitely more interesting medicine cabinet than the usual Ritalin regime. Landing a gig at, yes, a fashion magazine, Marnell soon developed an “amphetamine work ethic” and learned the ropes of the trade, including how to land Vicodin and Percocet and hide her habit effectively—at least at work (“I kept the orange bottles in the zipper pocket of my mom’s Chloé Silverado bag—hidden away”). Naturally, the author also learned that the people who surrounded her chemical life were not the most dependable or nicest, four to a couch and doped to the gills (“ZZZZZZZ, one of the dudes snored. At least that meant he was alive”). Writing in her early 30s on the other side of it all, Marnell ends her account with the expected truisms (“Strong, healthy people just don’t interest the sickos of the world as much”) and Scarlett O’Hara–isms (“Someday I’ll find a man who treats me right”). It’s all delivered with studied earnestness and an eye to shock value, though there’s not much left that can shock us in this sad world: not Japanese pornography and not the louche vision of addicts with Jean Paul Gaultier gym bags.

What’s missing is humor. Every generation needs its Carrie Fisher, perhaps even its Hunter S. Thompson, but this isn’t it.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5227-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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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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