BRIEF ENCOUNTERS

CONVERSATIONS, MAGIC MOMENTS, AND ASSORTED HIJINKS

A skilled second banana still works the crowd effectively.

TV’s once-reigning, smarty-pants talk show host presents his thoughts on some problems, performers and a few civilians he’s known.

The very model of a quick-witted interviewer, Cavett follows Talk Show: Confrontations, Points of Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets (2010) with more of his New York Times online columns. The author remembers working as a gag writer for famed comedians and recalls the Broadway badinage and smart repartee that marked the well-regarded Dick Cavett Show. There’s much ado about Groucho, Carson and the Burtons, Jonathan Winters, Mel Brooks and Stan Laurel, not forgetting the great Fat Jack Leonard. The author’s standard description of the truly talented is “great.” Often with good reason, Cavett liberally applies the encomium to renowned folk like Dietrich, Tracy, Kaufman, the portrayer of “Uncle Junior,” his own agent and Yale’s famed a cappella group, the Whiffenpoofs. The author uses the jester’s shtick of a muttered one-liner wrapped in parentheses. Then there’s the overly frequent mention of Cavett’s alma mater—Yale, of course, a fact readers won’t be allowed to forget, even as the text may wander off topic while the author digs into his archives and ruminates. Revelations include a rare adventure with booze and a monumental hangover. Cavett also confesses, as a lad in Nebraska, to a bit of mischievous rascality and a healthy interest in sex. More shocking: He was a fan of Nancy Drew. Naturally, the author on the small screen was more winning than Cavett is on the printed page. Though not exactly the great Alistair Cooke or Garrison Keillor, this light entertainment will please the many Cavett and Yale fans. Lifelong fan Jimmy Fallon provides the foreword.

A skilled second banana still works the crowd effectively.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0805099775

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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

Close Quickview