A strong memoir that oozes with the excitement of a life well-lived—and well-analyzed.

I WILL BE COMPLETE

A MEMOIR

A novelist and short story writer takes a stab at memoir.

“For years I didn’t write this memoir because I wasn’t sure of myself,” writes Gold (Sunnyside, 2009, etc.) near the end. “I was waiting for a specific perception to cascade down and surround and I was hoping it would feel like radiance. Oh now I understand why my mother did that. I was waiting for the moment I would be a slightly better person.” These perceptions—the author’s clear desire for insightful retrospection—follow Gold throughout the book. He writes searchingly about the tenuous relationship with his mother that he fostered, watched decay, and eventually restored. Systematically, it seems, she loved and demoralized him at the same time. “I loved my father but I belonged to my mother,” writes the author. This feeling of belonging and ownership would eventually come to define him. As he navigated through the hardships of social acclimation at Wesleyan University, in the workforce, and in his romantic life, Gold was constantly seeking a comfortable place in a world constantly in flux. But this struggle made him particularly insightful, and he offers consistently interesting takes on a variety of topics, specifically childhood and the process of maturation: “I was an anxious kid. I was born with a job. My parents told me they wanted to be parents so they could avoid the mistakes their own parents had made. I think they said this to let me know I was loved, but it made me feel pressure. I was going to have a better childhood. I wasn’t sure what that entailed, but it suggested responsibilities.” Gold delivers an engaging work of nonfiction that shows the author in a continuous battle to reconcile axioms with personal truths. As readers accompany him through his tumultuous relationships, unsuccessful jobs, or awkward interactions with his father, most will enjoy the ride.

A strong memoir that oozes with the excitement of a life well-lived—and well-analyzed.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-94639-8

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

A MEMOIR

In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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