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A winning collection—think of it as an extra slice of pie set aside for mom.

Thirty-one essays by mothers and daughters, refracting the light of motherhood in unusual and beautiful directions.

“Every day should be Mother’s Day.” That’s what many mothers say every year, and correctly. Mothers, mamas, moms—they give more of themselves than is reasonable. “A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie,” said Tenneva Jordan, a woman famous primarily for that statement. There are entire libraries’ worth of books about mothers, which include quotations, aphorisms, devotionals and essays. This collection, edited by novelist Benedict (Almost, 2001, etc.), would likely be shelved with those many others, but it deserves a place front and center. Contributors include a mix of well-known writers (Ann Hood, Mary Gordon, Elinor Lipman, Joyce Carol Oates, Roxana Robinson, etc.) with others still on the rise. Oates writes about a quilt passed down through the years. Emma Straub chronicles a cruise gifted to her by her mother; she describes it as “the maritime version of No Exit.” Maud Newton writes about how she and her mother circle each other warily, their orbits held by a love of literature. Other contributors include Elissa Schappell, Marge Piercy, Luanne Rice, Eleanor Clift, Lisa See and Margo Jefferson, and all contribute thoughtful, unexpected and fresh takes on their mothers and daughters. “Each of the contributors,” writes Benedict in the introduction, “describes a gift from her mother—three-dimensional, experiential, a work habit, a habit of being, a way of seeing the world—that magically, movingly reveals the story of her mother and of their relationship.”

A winning collection—think of it as an extra slice of pie set aside for mom.

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61620-135-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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