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A sharp, refreshingly frank collection from a fresh voice.

A debut collection of personal essays on the meaning of being a woman living in a patriarchal society.

Pine (Modern Drama/Univ. Coll. Dublin; The Politics of Irish Memory: Performing Remembrance in Contemporary Irish Culture, 2010, etc.) breaks years of learned silence to take feminist aim at taboo subjects. The opening essay, “Notes on Intemperance,” concerns her relationship with her father, a depressed alcoholic writer who “seemed happiest when he was as far away from his family as possible.” As she chronicles his struggle to pull back from the brink of liver failure, she examines the difficult emotions she experienced as a loving daughter who raged inwardly at her father’s profound selfishness. Her experiences starting a family of her own were no less painful, but for different reasons. In “From the Baby Years,” Pine discusses the pain of agonizing over whether or not she wanted a baby and then undergoing several unsuccessful fertility treatments. In another essay, she considers the female body, discussing menstruation in a powerfully unfettered way. Daring to offer details about such topics as menstruation during sex, Pine calls attention to the way female bleeding—and, by extension, the female body—is still seen as unclean. She suggests that her own discomfort with even saying she is menstruating is evidence of the pernicious way “women are policed. And of how we police ourselves.” In the most personally revealing essay, “Something About Me,” the author chronicles her “wild child” teenage years when she was part of the London club scene. A lonely child from a broken and dysfunctional home, Pine skipped school, drank, drugged, and had sex with strangers. Eventually, university life saved her, and she became a professor. But as she writes in her essay about being a woman in an institution built on patriarchal values, that home had its own breakdown-inducing stressors. Bold and timely, Pine’s book tells truths about being female and human that are as necessary to speak as they are to hear.

A sharp, refreshingly frank collection from a fresh voice.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984855-45-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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