Next book



Like the most discerning members of the audiences for whom Hindman played, readers may be left wondering what’s really...

A provocative memoir “about working as a fake violinist for a famous American composer.”

Hindman insists that “all of the events chronicled here, to the best of my knowledge and memory, are true,” but she also admits that the “I” of a memoir is “perhaps the biggest fakery of all.” So she generally substitutes “you” for “I,” particularly in her accounts of coming-of-age in Appalachia, where she developed a passion for the violin without ever demonstrating the gift of a prodigy. She also swallowed the lie that if you work hard enough, you can be anything you want, an assertion she learned was particularly problematic for a young female. These interludes provide context for the main narrative, which concerns the four years she spent touring to perform the music of a man identified as “The Composer,” an experience that “almost killed” her. The Composer had his ensembles “play” their music with minimal amplification, while what the audience heard was the music from a hidden CD player. When someone occasionally asked if they were really playing, they could honestly say they were, but what they were playing was not what the audience was hearing. Hindman kept the job as a faux violinist because she was desperate, because her college tuition was beyond the means of her Appalachian parents, and because as an egg donor she had already exhausted her resources with “the thirty egg-children I sold to pay…undergraduate tuition.” As the author connects the dots among American gullibility over fake weapons of mass destruction, chain restaurants offering faux authenticity, and her own psychological breakdown, the emotional honesty of her narrative permits no doubt. “Faking violin stardom,” writes the author, “ultimately allowed me to return to what captivated me at four years old….It was simply this: I loved a song.”

Like the most discerning members of the audiences for whom Hindman played, readers may be left wondering what’s really real—and how it matters. A tricky, unnerving, consistently fascinating memoir.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-393-65164-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

Next book


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

Next book



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

Close Quickview