Poignant, readable, and even fun despite the dark moments.

LIKE CRAZY

LIFE WITH MY MOTHER AND HER INVISIBLE FRIENDS

Mathews, the senior vice president for PETA, chronicles how caring for his feisty septuagenarian mother led to the discovery that she suffered from undiagnosed mental illness.

When the author’s mother, Perry, developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, he brought her to live with him in Virginia. A self-identified “gadabout,” Mathews worried about his decision. A quirky loner, Perry had a history of erratic behavior, and the author was profoundly uncertain he could manage the responsibility of caretaking. But from the moment she arrived, his footloose gay bachelor life not only stabilized, but also became more colorful. His friends—as well as readers of his first memoir, Committed—adored her sass and “avant-garde, pro-homo” attitudes. However, in addition to COPD, Perry suffered from heart problems, incipient deafness, chronic arthritis, and balance problems that sometimes caused her to fall. On occasion, she also heard voices. At first, Mathews believed that these sounds were the result of drug interactions and helped his mother cut back on her medication. Meanwhile, the author began coming into his own as the adult he never thought he could become, settling into a relationship with a man newly emerged from a heterosexual marriage. Perry’s moods continued to darken, and she began struggling with the proliferation of the voices in her head. A psychotic break forced Mathews to commit her to a mental hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with schizophrenia. He continued to care for her until she died, seeing in her not a “tragic victim” but a “weary survivor” who single-handedly raised three successful children without ever “succumb[ing] to drugs or booze or violence.” A playful and humane writer, Mathews drolly examines parent-child role reversals as he meditates on the meaning of watching a beloved parent come to terms not only with mortality, but also a devastating illness.

Poignant, readable, and even fun despite the dark moments.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9998-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

THE DEFENSE LAWYER

THE BARRY SLOTNICK STORY

The Patterson publishing machine clanks its way into the nonfiction aisles in this lumbering courtroom drama.

Barry Slotnick made a considerable fortune and reputation as a defense attorney who had a long list of controversial clients, including mob boss John Gotti and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. An “urbane lawyer known for his twenty-five-hundred-dollar Fioravanti suits, he was not unacquainted with violence,” write Patterson and Wallace. One of his early cases, indeed, involved a group of Jewish Defense League members who allegedly blew up a Broadway producer’s office, killing a woman who worked there. Slotnick’s defense was a standard confuse-the-jury ploy, but it worked. He put similar tactics to work in his defense of Bernhard Goetz, the “subway shooter” whose trial made international news. The authors open after that trial had concluded in yet another Slotnick win, and with a sensational incident: He was attacked by a masked man who beat him with a baseball bat. The evidence is sketchy, but it seems to place the attack in the hands of organized crime—perhaps even Gotti himself. No matter: Slotnick, “who saw himself as the foe of the all-powerful government” and “liberty’s last champion,” was soon back to representing clients including Radovan Karadžić, the murderous Bosnian Serb who was eventually imprisoned for having committed genocide; Dewi Sukarno, the widow of Indonesia’s similarly bloodstained president, “arrested for slashing the face of a fellow socialite with a broken champagne glass at a party in Aspen”; and Melania Trump, who had chosen Slotnick “to handle her prenup.” In the hands of a John Grisham, the story might have come to life, but while Patterson does a serviceable if cliché-ridden job of recounting Slotnick’s career, he fails to give readers much reason to admire the man.

For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49437-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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