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THE THOUGHTBOOK OF F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

A SECRET BOYHOOD DIARY

Scholars could make use of this material, but it should otherwise interest only Fitzgerald completists.

A very short, incomplete diary in which ardent devotees of the novelist might find a glimmer or two of significance.

By the standards of even what the editor’s introduction terms “juvenilia,” this diary or memoir or notes on girls by the 14-year-old “Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald of St Paul Minn U.S.A.” is barely marginalia from a boyhood that had yet to turn literary. Though the afterword argues for literary significance in the dialogue, lists and some of the characters, readers will strain to unearth a glimmer of the fiction that would later flower in the tone of the manuscript (considerably shorter than the framing essays, even after padding with period photos). The book deals almost exclusively with what concerns most 14-year-old boys: girls—where he stands with them and they with him. Missing its first seven pages, the “Thoughtbook” has plenty of rankings of who likes whom and why. Early on, the boy writes, “I was more popular with girls than I have ever been befor” [sic—spelling is not his strong suit]. A few months later, “I have two new crushes, to wit—Margaret Armstrong and Marie Hersey. I have not decided which one I like the best. The 2nd is the prettiest. The 1st is the best talker.” Talk prevailed, as two weeks later he gushes, “I am just crazy about Margaret Armstrong and I have the most awful crush on her that ever was.” Elsewhere, Fitzgerald writes of being third in a girl’s ranking of affections but working his way toward first. Such rankings changed as often as the weather, and this “Thoughtbook” is like the weather report of budding romance.

Scholars could make use of this material, but it should otherwise interest only Fitzgerald completists.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8166-7977-5

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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