OF TIME AND CHANGE

A MEMOIR

Literate, entertaining notes toward a memoir by the late southwestern novelist. Waters (Flight from Siesta, 1987), who died in 1995 at the age of 93, had something of a charmed, if difficult, childhood. His father, part Native American, introduced young Frank to the ways of the Ute, Navajo, and Pueblo Indians of the Southwest, an education that would serve him well in later years. After his father died, Waters made his way west to Los Angeles and later east to New York, where he worked, unhappily, as an engineer and advertising writer. —But none of my successive jobs and hectic marriages held any conviction of permanency,— he writes. —I felt I was playing roles in which I was miscast, and I had lost the thread of my inner life.— That quest for his inner life occupies most of this series of autobiographical vignettes, written with Waters’s trademark conversational ease. He describes affectingly the intellectual life of the pre-WWII Southwest, when Mabel Dodge and Mary Austin held sway over Taos and the likes of D.H. Lawrence, Georges Gurdjieff, C.G. Jung, and Andrew Dasburg were one’s cocktail companions. Waters’s sketches of such people are at once respectful and humorous, as with his description of the painter and professional liar Leon Gaspard, who claimed that he taught Marc Chagall to draw and helped Giacomo Puccini write his most famous opera. Elsewhere Waters devotes much time to discussing his understanding of Native American spirituality and his researches into the Otherworld. Although Waters’s Book of the Hopi was a foundational document in the literature of the contemporary New Age movement, it’s clear from these pages that he had little patience for cafeteria-style faith; his own quest involved considerable hard work, rigorous reading, and long conversations with leading religious thinkers of many cultures. Of much interest to readers of Waters’s novels and to students of Southwestern life and letters generally.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-878448-86-2

Page Count: 245

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1998

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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