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These subtle, reflective observations offer delightful insights into the lighthouse mystique.

A writer muses on what lighthouses mean to her.

Barrera, a Mexican journalist and editor and co-founder of the Mexico City–based publisher Ediciones Antilope, confesses early on that she’s a collector. “Collecting is a form of escapism,” she writes. After visiting Yaquina Head Lighthouse on the Oregon coast, she wanted “to articulate my feelings about that panorama—the moment and the lighthouse.” There was “something in the lighthouse itself that intrigued me.” Following that trip, she visited a few others and conducted research into their histories and the stories surrounding them: “It was like falling in love; I wanted to know the lighthouse to its very core.” Each story includes a wide array of topics in lighthouse culture, including literature, history, science, art, music, and the daily, brutal lives of the isolated keepers and their families. “From afar, a lighthouse is a ghost, or rather a myth, a symbol,” writes the author. “At close quarters, it is a beautiful building.” Barrera gives close attention to Robert Louis Stevenson’s family: his father, Thomas, instrumental in developing the revolutionary lens that replaced kerosene lamps, and his grandfather, Robert, the first to “construct a lighthouse on a marine rock, far from the coast.” The author is also intrigued that Edgar Allan Poe’s last, unfinished story was about a lighthouse keeper. Barrera chronicles her visit to the Ghoury Lighthouse, built in 1823 after a boat shipwrecked off the Normandy coast, and she comments on the many lighthouses in Edward Hopper’s paintings; he “said that the lighthouse is a solitary individual who stoically confronts the onrush of industrial society.” The author bemoans the fact that GPS and computers may one day make them obsolete. After reading Yukio Mishima’s The Decay of the Angel, about an orphaned boy who works in a signal station, Barrera stopped writing. “There are collections that will always be incomplete, and sometimes it’s better not to continue them.”

These subtle, reflective observations offer delightful insights into the lighthouse mystique.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949641-01-1

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Two Lines Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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