A journey through life with a guide who knows the trail and its wonders and who delights in the unexpected vistas that...

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IN THE MEMORY OF THE MAP

A CARTOGRAPHIC MEMOIR

A biology professor’s memoir concerning maps, memory and the importance of the natural world.

Norment (Environmental Science and Biology/SUNY Brockport; Return to Warden’s Grove: Science, Desire, and the Lives of Sparrows, 2008, etc.) begins one dreary March day when, tired of grading papers, he pulled out a map of Mount Whitney, Calif., and began to ruminate about maps, boyhood, marriage, fatherhood and life in the outdoors. The author writes of his longtime passion for trails and highways and describes many experiences on the twisted, tangled trails in remote regions of North America and, eventually, of his life. Although an Edenic aura often glows around his accounts, the snake is present, too, in the form of a sexually abusive, alcoholic stepfather. Norment does not offer graphic descriptions of his boyhood trauma, but at various times the dark memories of abuse drip their poison on his prose. Roughly chronological (but with flashbacks), the narrative covers his boyhood wanderings in California, his childhood fascination with gas-station maps, his experiences following feral burros in Death Valley, his pleasant memories of working with Outward Bound and his hikes with his children and a lifelong friend, with whom he hiked, sans maps, in a remote area of Washington State. He writes eloquently about the allegorical aspects of maps and evinces a wide acquaintance with scientific and creative literature, alluding to Faulkner, Chabon, Vonnegut, Muir, Hugo, Shakespeare and many others.

A journey through life with a guide who knows the trail and its wonders and who delights in the unexpected vistas that elevation can offer.

Pub Date: March 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60938-077-9

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Univ. of Iowa

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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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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