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CRUSH

WRITERS REFLECT ON LOVE, LONGING AND THE POWER OF THEIR FIRST CELEBRITY CRUSH

The seemingly lightweight premise of an anthology built around celebrity crushes yields an outstanding selection of poignant...

A few dozen writers recall their childhood infatuations with celebrated media stars or iconic characters (literary or animated) and how these crushes influenced their future lives.

Editors Alter (Up For Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over, 2008, etc.) and Singleton (Behind Every Great Woman is a Fabulous Gay Man, 2005, etc.) make a few lofty claims about celebrity influences in the introduction, but they are surprisingly well played out in these sharply observed pieces: “Celebrity crushes change and mold us into the people we will become,” they write, “shaping our ideals, fueling our fantasies, aiding and abetting our conquests, and leading us to (or away from) the people we meet and fall in love with decades later.” Though boasting big-name contributors such as James Franco and mega-selling authors Stephen King and Jodi Picoult (both deliver impressive pieces), the more memorable stories come from lesser-known talents. Among the standouts is “My Own Private Danny Zuko,” in which Yesha Callahan recalls her budding romance as a black teen with a visiting white neighbor, a young John Travolta–like double, which led to an anguished confrontation with racism. Larry Doyle tells of his obsession with Mary Tyler Moore as the Laura Petrie character from the Dick Van Dyke Show, and David Shields writes about Barbara Feldon’s Agent 99 in Get Smart—each are stylish and hilarious inclusions. Caroline Kepnes grudgingly revisits an awkward letter-writing correspondence with 90210 actor Brian Austin Green, and Richard McCann’s fascination with Bette Davis and her influence on his emerging gay awareness provides the basis for a marvelous multilayered story that begs to be expanded into a full-length memoir. Loosely organized into eight chapters, the collection also includes pieces from Joanna Rakoff, Roxane Gay, Shulem Deen, and Shane Harris.

The seemingly lightweight premise of an anthology built around celebrity crushes yields an outstanding selection of poignant and thought-provoking stories.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-239955-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

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

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


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  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Winner


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

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 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

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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