Movingly honest, at times droll, and ultimately poignant.

A gay magazine editor and writer’s account of how he returned home to the Midwest from New York to care for his aging mother.

Hodgman never dreamed he would return home to Paris, Missouri, to become his 90-year-old mother Betty’s “care inflictor.” But the lonely life he led in New York City, “lingering between the white spaces of copy, trying to get the work perfect,” had soured; more than that, he was now unemployed. And Betty, who refused to enter an assisted living facility, could not continue living alone. Hodgman watched his mother confront her increasing confusion and physical fragility with dread. Inevitably, they bickered and fussed, but the author knew that Betty represented the home he was never able to establish for himself, just as Betty knew her son was her only steady source of support. Confronted on a daily basis with reminders of his past, Hodgman reviewed his life with both parents. Betty and his father could never quite accept that he was gay, and they were content with their lives and the simplicity of Paris. It was the author who was never happy with who he was and who felt a perpetual need to make up for being different by trying to do better. That struggle would lead him to a high-status, high-pressure job at Vanity Fair. But at what should have been the pinnacle of his career, he gave his life over to drugs and the Fire Island gay party scene. Hodgman’s recovery—not just from substance abuse, but also from old patterns of emotional disconnection—would take years. But when he returned to Paris, it was with a greater acceptance of who he was: not the son Betty might have wanted or expected, but the son who would see her through the “strange days” of her final years of life.

Movingly honest, at times droll, and ultimately poignant.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42720-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014


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



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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