A quirkily intelligent memoir of finding oneself in movies.

SEARCHING FOR JOHN HUGHES

OR EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE I LEARNED FROM WATCHING '80S MOVIES

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor’s memoir about how watching John Hughes films as an adolescent gave meaning to his troubled life.

Rolling Stone sports editor Diamond grew up a member of the Jewish minority in suburban Chicago. For the first few years of his life, his mother and his candy manufacturer father lived an American dream that included “two cars [and]…a house…built with the money made from rotting the teeth of children who could only afford to spend a quarter on snacks.” His life changed dramatically after his parents divorced. By the time he was 7, he had attended four different schools and become “the weird kid [whom] nobody knew.” It was then that a babysitter introduced him to Hughes’ Pretty in Pink, which immediately became his favorite film for the comfort it gave him that even kids who were different could “still be cool.” As Diamond grew older and began watching more of Hughes’ movies, he found that they helped him to make sense of things like the social divisions in high school, where “everyone had his or her place, just like in a Hughes movie.” But then his mother, who could not cope with their rocky, adversarial relationship, moved away and left her son to fend for himself. Clinically depressed, homeless, and often drunk or high, Diamond turned even more to Hughes’ feel-good films to help him make sense of an unforgiving world. He then moved to New York, where he decided that he would write the director’s biography. After spending most of his 20s bouncing between Chicago and New York, often unhappy and endlessly revising a book he would never publish, his life finally came together. Both funny and heartbreaking, Diamond’s memoir is not just an account of how one director’s films impacted—and perhaps saved—his life. It is also a memorable reflection on what it means to let go of the past and grow up.

A quirkily intelligent memoir of finding oneself in movies.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-242483-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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