CONFESSIONS OF A BARBARIAN

SELECTIONS FROM THE JOURNALS OF EDWARD ABBEY, 1951-1989

Somehow it's not surprising to see Cactus Ed (Hayduke Lives!, 1990, etc.) roar back into view, returned from his last resting place under a rock in a lost desert canyon, to fire invective and inspiration at one and all. Petersen, a longtime Abbey friend, has pulled together a goodly bit of something for everyone in this selection from the extensive journals kept by the writer until his death in 1989 (the last journal is numbered 20). Expected are the powerful environmental exhortations, the religion-bashing, the bilious rants against politicos, urbanism, and eastern critics—not that they are any the less wondrous for that. Nor has Petersen, much to his credit, shielded Abbey from his occasional forays into what could at best be called small-mindedness; some might consider his writings on immigration and population matters plain old bigoted nonsense, even racist nastiness. But these pages also contain Abbey's sometimes fascinating takes on art, music, and writing, on life and death, and, revealingly, glimpses into his domestic affairs, which seemed to always be on the boil. (His fifth wife referred to him as ``a damned difficult man.'') Given much airtime, and beveling the writer's hard-edged reputation, is the love Abbey confesses for his five children, although how that translated into deed is another matter undiscussed. But the old reprobate will be best remembered for his deft evocations of the desert Southwest, a land he saw badly abused during his lifetime, a land he tried to protect. Abbey deserves a special place on the long list of American rabble-rousers like Tom Paine and Bill Haywood—as he would no doubt proudly, if cantankerously, agree. (Photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 1994

ISBN: 0-316-00415-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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

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