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NEVER SIT IF YOU CAN DANCE

LESSONS FROM MY MOTHER, BABE

This engaging tribute should ring a bittersweet bell with many baby boomers whose aging parents are dying.

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In this memoir, a journalist shares life lessons she learned from her colorful mother.

Back in the 1970s, Giese (A Woman’s Path, 1998, etc.) felt “sorely disappointed” with her stay-at-home mother. Describing herself as a “seventies-bell-bottom-wearing, Ms. magazine-writing daughter,” the author hoped she would never be like her mom, who spent countless hours embroidering dish towels. When Giese was in her 50s, however, she looked in her closet and recognized that her clothing was very much like her mom’s. The author also realized it was not such a bad thing to be like her parent, who lived life to the fullest. Very ladylike, Giese’s mom loved to wear ruffled blouses in the ’70s yet she hosted boozy, late-night dance parties and was an amazing arm wrestler (she always won). She unconventionally asked her daughter to call her Babe because she didn’t like her given name, Gladys. And with all that embroidering, Babe transformed her daughter’s bell-bottoms into hip, flowery fashion statements that rivaled designer brands. Painting a vivid portrait of a sometimes-contentious but always loving mother-daughter relationship, this spirited memoir is divided into 13 common-sense life lessons Babe taught, like “Don’t Be Drab,” “Never Leave a Compliment Unsaid,” and “Thank-You Notes Are Never Too Plentiful.” Giese’s prose is lively, and though the entire book can be read in a couple of hours, it’s brimming with entertaining anecdotes. For example, there was the time when the author and her family moved from Seattle to Houston, and Babe had them playing games during a hurricane. “Sometimes Life Begins Again At Ninety-Five” recalls energetic Babe moving to a seniors’ community and becoming the life of the party. Many of Babe’s lessons are wise; in “Go! While You Can,” she urged her daughter to travel while she was still physically able. At almost 98, Babe gave a heartbreaking final lesson—she showed her kids how to die with dignity. Despite describing painful episodes (Babe suffered five miscarriages), Giese’s account is mostly upbeat, as she celebrates her mom’s unique personality and fulfilling life.

This engaging tribute should ring a bittersweet bell with many baby boomers whose aging parents are dying.

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-533-9

Page Count: 142

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2018

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NIGHT

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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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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