A lightweight but entertaining seriocomic search for selfhood.

A journalist attempts to reclaim his flagging manhood through hunting.

Online family-issues guru ( Heimbuch (Chasing Oliver Hazard Perry, 2010) roots this book in his desire to suddenly live up to the manly Midwestern values of his avid hunter father, who one day gave his son a 12-gauge shotgun as a gift. Heimbuch had been outdoorsy—fly fisherman, gearhead and L.L. Bean enthusiast—but had never ventured into gun-toting territory. The author’s quest to validate his manhood via pheasant hunting soon goes beyond the father-son issues into more of a personal challenge to break out of his blandly routinized life as a small-time reporter and dutiful husband. Along the way, the book derives its comedic appeal from Heimbuch’s built-in liberal defenses against the largely conservative gun culture he had to force himself to confront. In fact, his inaugural visit to the NRA’s Rivers of Freedom convention became the perfect opportunity to mine his combination of disgust and wide-eyed fascination with this gun-nut spectacle (complete with an appearance by gun-loving former rocker Ted Nugent) for comedic gold. The conflicted author then headed out for the wilds of Iowa to test his newfound resolve as a pheasant hunter, and he devotes the second half of the book to the unintentional humor that naturally comes out of a newbie hunter chasing elusive feathered creatures around in a forest. But Heimbuch doggedly persevered, and in the end, his noble quest to become a successful gamesman narrowly avoids anticlimax. Although the book essentially thrives on self-deprecating humor, there are some well-illustrated lessons about the unexpected benefits of stepping outside comfortable workaday routines to get a clearer perspective on one’s potential as a human being.

A lightweight but entertaining seriocomic search for selfhood.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-219786-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012


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



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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