Get into the old tux, Rickles, and get back to work. And we say that, of course, with love.

Big-time insult comic decides to write a book.

A stand-up headliner since Jackie decorated the White House, Rickles is a comic commotion, liberally dispensing ad lib offense to all those hockey-puck patrons. In person, he murders. But in this knockoff autobiography, he bombs. He tells us what we don’t want to know: that Don Rickles is a regular guy, a family guy, a human being. Out of Queens, and after the Navy, he was a feckless salesman before getting into show biz. He played the compulsory Jersey dumps attended by the dour mobsters who populate accounts of this sort. He booked bar mitzvahs in Brooklyn and weddings in Miami. He got an agent (in addition to personal representative Mom), gigs in Vegas and movies. Reputed to approach off-color material onstage, Rickles doesn’t work blue on paper. His yarn is bland, and the shallow writing—blame co-author Ritz—can’t be salvaged even when recalling great one-liners of yesteryear. In classic show-biz memoir fashion, names are dropped with abandon: Robards and Newhart, Carson and Sinatra (the Chairman of the Board at his most imperious), some presidents and a pope, even Mr. Potato Head. But a memoir isn’t the right format for this cantankerous old comic now into his ninth decade; Wikipedia may offer the better assessment of Rickles’ life. Those who just don’t get Rickles, and there are many, won’t be entertained. Fans, and they are legion, would do well to overlook this slight text, too.

Get into the old tux, Rickles, and get back to work. And we say that, of course, with love.

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7432-9305-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007


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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