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SHOULD I STILL WISH

A MEMOIR

Evans’ poignant, authentically disjointed account offers candid insight into the baffling interplay of love, loss, and the...

A slim but probing biography of grief and happiness.

In a follow-up to his debut memoir, Young Widower (2014), Evans (Creative Writing/Stanford Univ.) explores his next stages of life following the death of his wife, Katie. Married just three years at the time 30-year-old Katie was killed by a bear while walking in the woods near Bucharest, Romania, the author sketches the rippling wake of that experience, including finding new love and his resulting paroxysm of guilt mingled with grief. He felt afraid to own the right to renewed, even greater happiness than he’d found before. The title of the present account reflects the author’s moving existential—almost ethical—question posed now nine years out from Katie’s death: “Shouldn’t I still wish you hadn’t died?” Immediately after the fact, this thought wasn’t even a question, but less than a year after witnessing his wife’s traumatic end, it became a powerful dilemma for Evans when he found new love with longtime friend Cait, a woman he’d met in the Peace Corps at the same time he’d met Katie. While numerous memoirs about reckoning with the loss of a loved one demonstrate the perils of attempting to circumvent grief, Evans’ self-study proves equally instructive in negotiating guilt. The author examined survivor’s guilt in his debut. Here, as Evans tries to come to terms with his new relationship with Cait, which led to their marriage and the births of three sons, it seems he’s attempting to write himself into a place of forgiveness for having moved on. In a soliloquy to his young son, Evans clandestinely reveals, “I want you to know that I have been happy in my affection,” and later goes on to admit, “part of what I mean to describe here is not grief at all, I think, but forgetting.”

Evans’ poignant, authentically disjointed account offers candid insight into the baffling interplay of love, loss, and the balm of memory.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8032-9522-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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