A brutally honest and informative portrait of homeless survival and the dynamics of addiction.

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MEMOIRS OF A MIRACLE

McHugh’s debut memoir recounts his difficulties with alcohol, the hopelessness of life on the street, and his road to recovery.

The author opens his story with an event in 2005 that set him on a healthier path. He was lying in a hospital bed hooked up to IVs, and a doctor told him, “Your heart is functioning at 7% of normal”—and the hospital staff had “never seen anyone survive at less than ten.” In the past, McHugh says, he would have sneaked out of the hospital, against doctors’ advice. But not this time: “My battered body teetered on the brink of catastrophic failure.” The author then takes readers on an odyssey as he remembers his days on the street as a homeless alcoholic. At one point, McHugh built a makeshift lean-to in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for protection against a coming storm, only to have it fail; he awakened in a cold, rain-and-urine-soaked sleeping bag and shouted, “God my life sucks!” Then he searched for the “40 ounce Steele 211 malt liquor” stashed in nearby scrub brush. Indeed, the focus of each day was on his next drink; at one point, he tells of bartering English muffins from a church lunch for more booze. He established a camaraderie with other homeless people at the “Pits,” and they became his “surrogate family for the next few years.” Throughout this memoir, McHugh gets across how much he relished the nonjudgmental acceptance, kindness, and even generosity of many of his fellow street people. His choice to only minimally develop these secondary figures in his remembrance is appropriate, though, as he depicts them as merely part of an unending party. Over the course of this tale of woe and redemption, McHugh berates himself for becoming what he believed to be a degenerate, but he acknowledges the fun that he had as well. Still, the story doesn’t ever become repetitive, and the ending is satisfying. Families of addicts, in particular, will find this book to be a must-read.

A brutally honest and informative portrait of homeless survival and the dynamics of addiction.

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9995455-0-8

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2019

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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