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ROOM TO DREAM

Although an awkward read, the book abounds in great stories and terrific movie trivia that will sate Lynch fans for years to...

It takes a tag-team effort to tell this ambitious life of the enigmatic filmmaker and artist.

Lynch (Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, 2006) has always been an outsider when it comes to his films, art, and photography, so it comes as no surprise that this dual biography/autobiography is “strange,” as the authors describe it. Journalist and friend McKenna (The Ferus Gallery: A Place to Begin, 2009, etc.) pens an insightful, well-researched, conventional biography in chapters drawing mostly on interviews. Lynch’s chapters follow hers, responding like “a person having a conversation with his own biography.” Inevitably, there is repetition, and it’s not uncommon for McKenna to tell a story one way and Lynch to tell it differently. Lynch comes across as an amiable, chatty fellow who wears his brilliance lightly. He writes lovingly of his “dreamy,” itinerant, middle-class childhood where the roots for his films were first planted. He enthusiastically describes how he felt after receiving an American Film Institute grant that would allow him to make his first feature film, Eraserhead. McKenna writes that “John Waters encouraged his fans” to see it, and Stanley Kubrick “loved” it. It also got Mel Brooks’ attention, and he asked Lynch to direct The Elephant Man for his production company. Lynch describes making the film as a “baptism of fire.” It was “a beautiful story and a beautiful experience and it’s timeless.” Next came Dune, which “brought him to his knees,” McKenna writes—but it also “helped clarify precisely who he is as a filmmaker.” It was a “good thing,” Lynch responds, “to have a humiliating major failure.” In the end, Lynch sums it all up: “It’s impossible to really tell the story of somebody’s life, and the most we can hope to convey here is a very abstract ‘Rosebud.’ ”

Although an awkward read, the book abounds in great stories and terrific movie trivia that will sate Lynch fans for years to come.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-58919-5

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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.”

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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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