A relentlessly probing memoir of a search for self-knowledge.


Excavating the past unearths festering wounds.

In this final volume of a trilogy about children of Holocaust survivors, journalist Epstein (Where She Came From: A Daughter’s Search for Her Mother’s History, 1997, etc.) decided to focus on her own “atypical adolescence,” investigating especially how her parents’ trauma had affected her “in the intimate realms of sex and friendship.” The project, she thought naively, “would be easy, even a lark.” She could not have been more wrong. To help her recall details, in 2000, she flew from her home in Massachusetts, where she lived with her husband and sons, to California to reconnect with Robbie, who had been a close family friend and later a lover. Robbie had been a gifted musician, and Epstein had imagined that he would become a “brilliant, charismatic, celebrated” performer. But the 55-year-old man she met was far different: overweight, emotionally volatile, suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and, he tells her, manic-depression. Although Epstein praises him as her “collaborator and coach,” he often erupted with impatient and harsh remarks. Robbie is just one among many unsympathetic characters populating the memoir. Others include the author’s self-absorbed mother, who had disclosed a shocking revelation the day before Epstein began psychoanalysis; a “narcissistic, patronizing” cousin; and the husband of her nanny, whom she came to believe sexually abused her when she was 3 years old. As soon as she embarked on her journey into the past, Epstein was overcome with grief, frequently weeping, hyperventilating, and falling “into altered states of consciousness.” She decided to have phone sessions with the taciturn therapist Dr. M., who had treated her 20 years before, recording her side of their conversation, enabling her to convey every detail. Candid and penetrating, the memoir nevertheless is overwhelmed by those details, as Epstein meticulously unravels the fabric of her past. Some of her closest friends, she writes, “tired of my doubling back over the same subjects over and over again.” Readers will likely agree.

A relentlessly probing memoir of a search for self-knowledge.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9614696-6-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Plunkett Lake Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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