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Precious little unpublished Calvino (1923-85) remains, and this is some: five slender pieces. The richest is a memoir of Calvino's father's semitragic hump up and down a steep hillside to reach the family's estates each day, down from which he took the vegetables and fruits he grew there. The Calvinos were involved, as a living, with Ligurian floriculture; to harvest one's own food, on the other hand, was for Calvino's father a declaration of faith in utility vs. decoration. To make the daily climb was also a Dantesque renunciation of the lower precincts of existence. Calvino recounts his father's climb, and his own youthful impatience with it, with a perfect modulation of regret, imagery, and sense. As good, or nearly, is a brilliant appreciation of Fellini—in which Calvino talks about the necessity of distance in movies (he's no great fan therefore of Italian neo-realism) and the moral perfection of Fellini's illustrated-comic-book style, in which "he recuperates the monstrous into the human, into the indulgent complicity of the flesh." Pieces about taking out the garbage, a memory of a failed wartime Partisan engagement, and a set of variations upon metaphysical perspective are far weaker (and none of the quintet is especially well brought into English by Tim Parks; William Weaver's Calvino is missed). For the title piece and the one on Fellini, indispensable; the rest isn't memorable.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0679743480

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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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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