Brown's humor is pointed inward as often as outward, and he neither glosses over nor languishes on the fact that he has...

A journalist’s diary of age 60.

In 2014, Brown (The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son, 2011, etc.) arrived at one of the crossroads of life that even the most self-assured among us cannot help but eye warily. No longer a young man, nor even middle-aged, but on the cusp of “heading into the last turn, or for the back nine, or toward the clubhouse (someone should make a list of all the euphemisms we employ to denote the onset of aging),” the author looked back on a resolution he made at 50 to take note of the details around him and the processes unfolding within him. For 10 years, that resolution got lost in the daily shuffle of obligations. As 60 approached, he found a dearth of levelheaded explorations of that age. Displeased with the cheerleading of seniorhood as just another "new and ever-younger future,” an assessment that “mostly made me want to run shrieking from the room,” Brown found new motivation to try his hand at it. The subjects that find their ways into these pages aren't surprising: the author mulls over his own flagging ambitions as a writer, wondering where the drive to swing for the fences went and why he didn't harness it when it was active. He considers the writing of others—not just about aging, but also the importance of being present in one’s current environment. Conversations with lifelong friends often turned into the airing of the newest physical grievances. Young editors at the newspaper told him to develop his Twitter presence and build his list of followers on YouTube. His reactions reflect the knowledge of someone who understands technology well enough to acknowledge the shifting paradigms while also dismissing much of it as ridiculous. If that sounds cantankerous, the author is not.

Brown's humor is pointed inward as often as outward, and he neither glosses over nor languishes on the fact that he has fewer years ahead of him than behind.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61519-350-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: The Experiment

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016


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

Close Quickview