An assumption-exploding, smart account of creativity, work, and a decidedly unconventional life.

An adroit memoir from the creator of Transparent.

Soloway grew up with a father who “was either hiding out, depressed, or working,” along with a tough mother and a sister who came out long ago even as the author “stayed a straightbian and tilted toward artsiness and weed.” So far, an ordinary American family, until one day her father called to say that he was trans. “I had the wrong pronouns then and have only some of the right pronouns now but will use the wrong ones so you can see how wrong I had it,” writes the author, the ordinariness having given way to something new. Having written for the HBO series Six Feet Under and crafted the indie film Afternoon Delight, Soloway was well-placed to make the difficult sell for a series that leveraged some of her own experience and that of many other people—namely, Transparent, which proved a hit for Amazon as it was launching its own independent production business. There was a lot to learn, Soloway writes, and readers new to the complexities of nonbinary gender will find new things on every page thanks to the author’s sharp observations of the world, as when seeing a young man on a Vermont street wearing a sundress: “The same homeless kid, were they female but wearing a man’s scruffy pants and shirt, wouldn’t attract a second look. They might be exactly the same amount genderqueer, but the one who seemed to be male in women’s clothing was alarming in the way a woman in men’s clothing would not be.” There’s a lot to chew on in such things, and Soloway’s meditations become more complex, some of it in the shadow of the unfolding #MeToo movement. A helpful takeaway comes late in the book: “You’re not in trouble and you haven’t done anything wrong.”

An assumption-exploding, smart account of creativity, work, and a decidedly unconventional life.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-90474-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018


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



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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