Novelist/essayist and professional bohemian Gold (Travels in San Francisco, 1989, etc.) surveys the past three or four decades of his wandering years. It's hard to know whom Gold has in mind as readers for this trip through the echoes of the Beat generation in San Francisco, the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village, the Left Bank and Montmartre, Haiti, Israel, Morocco, and like places where the penniless robe themselves in the dignity of their art. His water- spider prose skims over faces and cafes so swiftly that few register for longer than the glimpse allowed. Gold writes well, paragraph by paragraph, but repeats himself chapter by chapter until once lively statements, quotations, or metaphors get weather- beaten and the mind frazzles with the suspicion that he has nothing to say but is saying it brilliantly. Like a be-bopper working scales, Gold pads and jazzes every page with flurries of notes without feeling and with so little melody or anecdote that the storytelling seems only ten percent, the excelsior ninety. The appeal here is to homecoming—once more having our knee felt up by Jean Genet as he asks, ``Do you masturbate?''; having Gregory Corso reach for a cafe check he has no intention of paying; having William Burroughs prepare a salad while pulling together the first pages of Naked Lunch; having Katherine Ross borrow the car and return it months later with a glove compartment full of unpaid parking tickets; and, in former Clevelander Gold's chosen home of San Francisco, visiting once again the City Lights Bookstore, Vesuvio's, North Beach, the Mission District, the Haight, and the alley named after Jack Kerouac. But it all reads as if recycled from magazine and Sunday newspaper space-fillers that Gold enjoyed writing for his expenses and now can't bear to render up to darkness unwrapped in hard covers. Two cheers for chat, one for content.

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-76781-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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