Next book



A yarn to read, with pleasure, alongside Ringolevio and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Wondrous tales of the hippie highway by Grateful Dead lyricist and internet pioneer Barlow.

The author died recently after a long series of illnesses that form a moody counterpart to the general anarchist fun of his memoir. That may be a good thing considering that the statute of limitations may not yet have run out for various of the hijinks he recounts here. The son of a prominent Wyoming rancher, Barlow was packed off to a Colorado prep school, where he met a classmate named Bob Weir, later to become renowned as a Dead’s guitarist and singer. Later, at Wesleyan, Barlow came into the orbit of Timothy Leary, who inducted him into the mysteries of LSD. These and many other confluences make for the narrative bones of a story that the author tells with zest and no small amount of self-congratulation—in part for having survived where so many others fell, such as pal Neal Cassady, who died of exposure in Mexico. “Exposure seemed right to me,” writes Barlow. “He had lived an exposed life. By then, it was beginning to feel like we all had.” A lysergic pioneer, Barlow initiated young John F. Kennedy Jr. into the cult; had the young man not died in a plane crash, as Barlow warned him it was all too easy to do, he might have changed the shape of American politics. The author was steeped in politics, renegade though he might have been; he was a friend of Sen. Alan Simpson, a sometime associate of Dick Cheney, and a confidant of Jackie Kennedy. The storyline is a bit of a mess, but so was Barlow’s life, the latter part of which was devoted to internet-related concerns. But he writes with rough grace and considerable poetic power, as when he describes a 1993 Prince concert: “the place was full of all these bridge and tunnel people who were swaying in their seats like kelp in a mild swell.”

A yarn to read, with pleasure, alongside Ringolevio and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6018-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

Next book


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

Next book



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

Close Quickview