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Screenwriter and novelist Forrest (Cherries in the Snow, 2005, etc.) delivers an intense story of madness and redemption.

Though the author, a transplanted Brit, was enjoying some success as a writer in New York City, she writes, “my quirks had gone beyond eccentric, past the warm waters of weird to those cold, deep patches of sea where people lose their lives.” She was cutting, bingeing and purging, clinging to disastrous relationships and feeling suicidal. She found help with Dr. R., but still attempted suicide soon after starting to see him. During the next decade, Dr. R. became her friend, mentor and life raft. Forrest says much about Dr. R., but concludes, “I liked how he saw me. It’s that simple.” After eight years of therapy, Dr. R. died without warning; Forrest learned of his death through an e-mail. Angered and confused by being left behind so abruptly, many of her old habits returned. Still, Dr. R.’s voice remained in her head—sometimes speaking though her cat—gently easing her pain, giving her strength. A famous movie star, GH, became her lover and just as quickly left her. Forrest’s narrative follows the now-familiar arc of being lost then found, but the profoundly precise writing sets it apart. The author provides plenty of pop-culture references and name-drops like crazy—Heath Ledger, Brad Pitt, Gloria Steinem—but readers are never sure if these people are actually there. Does she really see Monica Lewinsky each time she is crying in a West Village café? There are mysteries here, but a pervasive honesty as well. A brilliantly realized memoir of surprise and startling beauty.


Pub Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59051-446-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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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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