Keahey provides a solid argument for seeing Sicily not for its stereotypes but for its surprising hospitality.




A vivid Sicilian travelogue from an experienced traveler.

If you believe Hollywood, Sicily is little more than the birthplace of the Mafia. Enter Keahey (Hidden Tuscany: Discovering Art, Culture, and Memories in a Well-Known Region's Unknown Places, 2014, etc.), who first traveled to Sicily in 1986 and is now an expert. “Despite my having no known ancestry here,” he writes, “Italy and Sicily keep summoning me.” In his latest book, the author takes armchair travelers on an enjoyable adventure through Sicily’s back roads and tiny towns. At times it can feel like a diary, a play-by-play of a man roaming the countryside: “Afterward I honored the ritual of riposo. When I awoke, it was time for the evening service at the cathedral,” Keahey reports of his time in Piana degli Albanesi. But for all the banal details of naps, espresso runs, trips to the bakery, the author packs the narrative with plenty of pro tips and pleasant insider tidbits a future traveler could use. For instance, Keahey is a strong advocate of getting off the highway and on to provincial roads. “Many times,” he writes, “I have stumbled into a really small place with only a few streets lined with medieval structures and sat down to a remarkable meal in a tiny trattoria with perhaps three tables.” At his best, the author makes a charming case for the benefits of travel. In the afterword, he writes of getting a bloody nose in a cafe in Santo Stefano di Camastra. Noticing his plight, women from another table jumped up to help, an older woman tilted his head back, and a third ran across the street to procure gauze to staunch the bleeding. “Sir, this is Sicily. We help,” one of the women explained. “Tell people that Sicily is not the Mafia.”

Keahey provides a solid argument for seeing Sicily not for its stereotypes but for its surprising hospitality.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-10469-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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