Told in a conversational style both luscious and luxuriant, this is exquisite work by a master craftsman.

The celebrated author turns inward with this enchanting memoir about his beloved hometown.

Franz Kafka Prize and Booker Award recipient Banville (Mrs. Osmond, 2017, etc.) turns nostalgic in this quietly reflective, personal meditation on Dublin. Like the author’s pathologist detective Quirke of his pseudonymous Benjamin Black novels, Banville’s 1950s Dublin is where he begins his walking tour, with the “laboratory of the past…shaped and burnished to a finished radiance.” He lovingly recounts December birthday trips by train with his mother from their Wexford home to visit his spinster Aunt Nan at her Percy Place flat. Dublin, writes the author “was for me what Moscow was for Irina in Chekhov’s Three Sisters, a place of magical promise towards which my starved young soul endlessly yearned.” Literary city signposts abound: Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh, and more. Banville then joins up with his friend Cicero, who “knows a Dublin that few others are aware of or have forgotten ever existed.” As a young man, the author shared the “shabby splendours” of an Upper Mount Street flat with his aunt in the “dazzlingly bright lights of Dublin.” Yeats’ daughter Anne lived below. “What a prissy and purblind young man I was,” writes Banville, “a snob with nothing to be snobbish about.” Forays into Dublin’s streets and pubs and Ireland’s history mix with memories and images flickering about like film running in a darkened room, all brought to life with picturesque-perfect details. He visits Iveagh Gardens with his daughter to show her “a place precious to me, where I was once sweetly and unhappily in love.” He and Cicero visit one of his “favourite buildings in all the world”—the Great Palm House of the Botanic Gardens. The text is beautifully complemented with Joyce’s well-chosen photographs.

Told in a conversational style both luscious and luxuriant, this is exquisite work by a master craftsman.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3283-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017


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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