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A rosy aura glows throughout this misty memoir of love and loss.

The King’s final fiancee breaks her long silence.

Presley fans hoping for some scenes with sizzle will need to reread 50 Shades of Grey instead. Here, there are a few chaste kisses, and the first time the couple actually engaged in any sexual contact, Alden reaches into her well-used bag of clichés and emerges with, “I felt chills as he touched me. Was this it? Were we finally going to make love? I was aroused but anxious, barely able to breathe.” The author’s account is resolutely chronological, beginning with her father’s encounters with Presley in the U.S. Army (encounters not involved in his daughter’s later relationship) and moving forward to the King’s demise on Aug. 16, 1977, when she found him toppled over on the bathroom floor—the author does not go into much detail regarding his death. A couple of decades younger that Presley, Alden was swooped into the Presleys’ odd life at Graceland. Soon, he was showering her (and, eventually, her family, too) with gifts: jewels, cars, furs and some promises he didn’t live to execute. (An unfulfilled promise to pay off her mother’s mortgage was an issue that ended up in court.) Alden also writes about his weird and ugly sides, but always with (remembered) affection. He hit her once (apologized), discharged firearms at a TV and telephone (apologized), hurled a dish of ice cream at the wall when she mentioned calories (apologized), and pouted and waxed passive-aggressive when he didn’t get exactly what he wanted. The author’s many descriptions of Elvis’ fascination with numerology and conspiracy theories make him appear—unintentionally, it’s clear—as something of a dim bulb despite his bright talent. After the King’s death, the others gradually elbowed Alden away, and he did not mention her in his will.

A rosy aura glows throughout this misty memoir of love and loss.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0425266335

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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