The author does a solid job analyzing the birth and development of Dracula and illustrating the character traits Stoker...

Steinmeyer (The Last Greatest Magician in the World, 2011, etc.) reveals the variety of influences on Stoker’s most (some would say only) memorable work of fiction.

The author posits that the four greatest influences on Stoker were Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Jack the Ripper and the actor Henry Irving. Stoker was Irving’s general factotum and “acting manager” over a period of 30 years, and his influence would be obvious. Whitman was a childhood hero, and Jack the Ripper’s murders in London at that time piqued everyone’s interest. The city in the 1890s was rife with characters like Wilde, who affected the tastes of that golden age, and most crossed paths with Stoker. Just as 1920s Paris housed a vast menagerie of writers, actors and other artists, so Stoker’s life working for Irving at the Lyceum Theatre brought him into contact with all of the era’s adventurers and storytellers. They met after productions in the Lyceum’s Beefsteak room with their own tales of travel, discovery and absurdities; many of these tales found their way into Stoker’s story of the Transylvanian vampire. Oddly, Stoker was obsessive about making sure his facts were correct, right down to the landscape of Yorkshire, tides and London train schedules, but he never visited the Carpathians, where the novel takes place. Further, his notes never mentioned Vlad the Impaler, the historical figure most identify as the inspiration for Dracula. Steinmeyer takes us inside the genesis of the novel, “a swirl of nightmarish images that had been borrowed from real heroes, villains, heightened dramas, and theatrical tragedies."

The author does a solid job analyzing the birth and development of Dracula and illustrating the character traits Stoker cherry-picked from his wide circle of friends.

Pub Date: April 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-0142421888

Page Count: 288

Publisher: TarcherPerigee

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013


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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