An ambitious recovery account that entertains but fails to focus on addiction or redemption.

Happy Chasing Happy

AN AIMLESS HIGH TO HAPPINESS

A young mixed martial arts fighter shares his struggles in and out of the ring in this candid memoir.

Isip (10 Stacks to Success, 2014) fell in love with mixed martial arts when he was in junior high school in New Jersey. By 2001, he was a trained fighter and won his debut match. The training was brutal, and the emotional roller coaster of being a competitor often left Isip drained. But his commitment to the sport stemmed from another battle: his struggle with alcohol and drug abuse. As a teenager, Isip experimented with binge drinking, ecstasy, and other drugs, which never ended well. He and his friends invented something called Sexticy, an insane mixture of Cisco, Stacker pills, and Viagra. One particularly bad bender on Sexticy led to Isip’s brother intervening, but it was not enough of a wake-up call for the fighter. He then went to Miami and was arrested, an experience he shares in humiliating detail. Eventually, a dark depression settled over Isip, and a suicide attempt prompted him to reevaluate his life choices. The volume includes comic-book-like illustrations and photographs, enhancing the ease of the story. Set in a teenage New Jersey wasteland, Isip narrates scenes with fun dialogue, pop-culture references (his talk of pills includes an illustration of Jessie Spano’s meltdown on the TV series Saved by the Bell) and lots of Jackass-worthy action. But he mixes this narration with lectures on the effects of drugs and alcohol, including a condemnation of antidepressants that ignores the many people taking these pills who do not turn into addicts. His meditations on happiness, per the title, come too little too late. By far, the book’s best sections involve Isip as a fighter, describing the ego and arena of mixed martial arts with great passion. A straightforward narrative of drug addict to prize fighter would have made for a less manic memoir.

An ambitious recovery account that entertains but fails to focus on addiction or redemption. 

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68301-638-0

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Tate Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2016

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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