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The latest gem in the publisher’s already glittering Eminent Lives series.

Brief but illuminating biography of the troubled and troubling French poet.

Jean Nicholas Arthur Rimbaud (1854–91) composed revolutionary verse, carried on a wild, sometimes violent love affair with fellow poet Paul Verlaine, then abandoned his muse and pursued lucre in Africa. Prolific novelist/memoirist/biographer White (Hotel de Dream, 2007, etc.) offers a lucid, literate introduction to the poet’s short but turbulent life. He begins with a personal connection, recalling his elation when, as a troubled gay adolescent, he discovered Rimbaud’s verse and homosexuality. White moves swiftly through his subject’s spectacular early student career, up-and-down relationship with his mother (to whose home he continually returned, even in his most frenetic phases), voracious reading, early experiments with verse, lifelong wanderlust and ill-fated relationship with Verlaine. It was 16-year-old Rimbaud who made contact; Verlaine, a far more celebrated poet at the time, recognized the boy’s talent and invited him to Paris. Before their affair was over, the older man had left his wife, destroyed his reputation and spent two years in jail for shooting Rimbaud through the wrist. Nonetheless, White shows, Verlaine remained his tormentor’s strongest supporter. No one really knows for certain why Rimbaud abandoned literature and intransigently refused to return to it, preferring to labor in a rock quarry, run guns or trade ivory. White speculates that he was driven by greed and perhaps a desire to start fresh far away from Paris and London, where his reputation had been sullied by his sexual escapades, among other things. Unsurprisingly, the author offers insightful commentary on Rimbaud’s verse as well.

The latest gem in the publisher’s already glittering Eminent Lives series.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-934633-15-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Atlas & Co.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2008

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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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