Next book



Full of small provocations—among them, “I sometimes regret the invention of the category ‘gay’ ”—this is a welcome portrait...

From renowned novelist and essayist White (Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel, 2008, etc.), a graceful memoir of a decidedly ungraceful time in the life of New York City.

“In the 1970s in New York,” writes the author, “everyone slept till noon.” Also, “everyone smoked all the time, and when you French-kissed someone, it was like rubbing one ashtray against another.” The era was one of aspiration and poverty, of a time before New York had “become enslaved by wealth and glitz,” when “people still embraced Ezra Pound’s motto ‘Beauty is difficult.’ ” There is much difficult beauty—and much French kissing—in these pages, which recount White’s arrival to the city in 1962 as a transplanted Texan by way of Ann Arbor and his eventual assimilation. His arrival coincided with a slight but noticeable uptick in the general awareness that there were such a thing as gay people. White lived openly with a young man, but he still knotted his narrow tie carefully and went to work as one of the great silent majority. A “living contradiction,” he reveled in gay weekends while roiling in self-hatred and seeing a psychotherapist in the hope of turning straight and getting married. The cure didn’t take, and White’s self-awareness grew with times that included the rise of the so-called Pink Panthers and the Stonewall Riots. Those were times of danger. As White recounts, wary Manhattanites negotiated the city block by block, shunning, say, 85th Street in favor of one on either side of it and generally keeping doors bolted and windows gated. But they were also times of liberating art, with White enjoying the company of intellectuals and writers—including Richard Howard (“Every moment with him had a sense of occasion”), Richard Sennett (“an odd combination of schoolboy nerd, flamboyant queen, and Mrs. Astor”) and Simon Karlinsky—while publishing his first books and gaining recognition in the literary world.

Full of small provocations—among them, “I sometimes regret the invention of the category ‘gay’ ”—this is a welcome portrait of a time and place long past, and much yearned for.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59691-402-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

Next book


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

Next book



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