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Pieces that reveal a fine mind, a creative imagination and, sometimes, an idiosyncratic notion of fact.

A collection of interviews, speeches and essays by the late author, whose literary reputation plummeted after a 1982 article in the Village Voice accused him of plagiarism and employing ghostwriters.

Kosinski (1933–1991) won the National Book Award for his 1968 novel Steps, and before his 1982 plummet, he seemed to be everywhere, especially in magazines and on TV (numerous appearances with Johnny Carson). His widow (now also deceased) assembled these pieces, often transcribing recordings she’d made of his appearances. Neither Kosinski nor his editors (including Lupack) makes much of a defense for him; his editor relies on the frail argument that “the underlying truth” of his stories trumps factual accuracy. “Most of the charges were unproven,” says the editor, neglecting to mention which ones were. The editor has arranged the pieces in large categories (“The Practice of Fiction,” “On the Holocaust” and so on) and generally adheres to chronology within categories. So we hear Kosinski in a 1982 radio interview describing his boyhood in Poland, a boyhood that sounds a lot like the boy’s in The Painted Bird. Kosinski had the capacity to say arresting things. In a 1973 letter to his publisher, he mentions how “the imagination creates molds into which experience can fit.” He also wrote that a writer’s function is to be a “detonator” and that language is “the translation of man’s original weapons.” Unsurprisingly, there is some repetition. Twice he mentions that the writer’s task is to pause and reflect, and he repeatedly blasts TV for its numbing effects on the American mind. He also wishes that Jews would think more of the future, less of the Holocaust.

Pieces that reveal a fine mind, a creative imagination and, sometimes, an idiosyncratic notion of fact.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2033-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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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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