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A profound, searching remembrance that explores a complex family bond.

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Debut author Burns recalls growing up in the shadow of her glamorous mother in this memoir.

The book opens with a description of a recurring nightmare, which the author experienced sporadically over many years following her mother’s death. In it, she fails to call her ill mother, as she’s unable to remember her telephone number. Wracked with guilt, she asks herself, “How could I be such a terrible daughter?” Throughout her relationship with her mom, Burns says, she was always in “chasing mode, in longing pursuit of something fleeting.” Dotty, the author’s parent, was a “spectacular woman everyone thought was a movie star”; she was frequently compared to Rita Hayworth. The memoir reveals that Dotty married into the Canzoneri family, who owned an exclusive country club that was frequented by members of the New York criminal underworld. Dotty dazzled the clientele, and her lifelong passion for socializing resulted in her daughter often being sidelined. The memoir’s title is a reference to the fact that on Saturdays, the author and her mother would spend time together, shopping and having ice cream. Burns addresses how she coped with always playing “second fiddle” to her mom while also feeling “desperate to be loved by her.” She’s a devilishly sharp writer who achieves a masterful balance of psychological excavation and sumptuous description. Here’s her acerbic accounting of her maternal grandfather: “he was a man with no family at all—as if he too had sprouted fully formed, miserable and alone after he ate whoever made him.” However, when it comes to her mother, she rarely moves beyond her image of her as a “goddess.” When describing Dotty’s lifestyle, Burns vividly evokes the glamour of mid-20th-century American high society; for instance, she recalls how her mom “dressed in full regalia for all her public travels…with fitted knee-length pencil skirts and high patent leather heels.” But the most affecting aspect of this memoir is how the author is liberated by confronting her idealized perception of her parent while remaining tender to her memory. (Illustrated with black-and-white family photographs.)

A profound, searching remembrance that explores a complex family bond.

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-547-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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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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