CASH

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Mostly, though, a pungent, substantive autobiography from one the most iconoclastic talents on the American music scene.

A humble, happy look back from the man in black.

Johnny Cash answers to many names; he's JR to childhood friends and family, John to bandmates, and Johnny to fans. `"Cash'' is the name wife June Carter reserves for ``the star, the egomaniac.'' The star gets plenty of ink here, from the early days at Sun Records—with Elvis, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis—to his current status as a darling of the alternative rock set. But it's the private man who's most compelling and surprisingly complex. Cash writes candidly of his recurring addiction to amphetamines and his concomitant shortcomings as a father, addresses his spirituality without sounding maudlin, and displays genuine humility at his success and very little bitterness at his abandonment by the country music establishment. A more accurate subtitle might be "The Second Autobiography,'' since this volume covers some of the same ground as Cash's previous work, The Man in Black(1986), but a life so chock full of oddments (he once started a forest fire with an automobile and on another occasion was nearly disemboweled by an ostrich) and renegade stands (he opposed Vietnam, heresy to the nation's blue-collar constituency) easily merits a second look. Organized around the domiciles where he divides his time—homes in Tennessee, Florida, and Jamaica, as well as his tour bus—the book stays grounded in the present, mixing reflections on his 40-year career with a running chronicle of an ongoing tour. This novel approach minimizes the as-told-to blahs that plague many a celebrity autobiography and highlights Cash's wry humor and introspection. With the help of Carr, editor of Country Musicmagazine, Cash keeps the pace lively until the end, when the roses he throws everyone from grandkids to music biz buddies bog things down. 

Mostly, though, a pungent, substantive autobiography from one the most iconoclastic talents on the American music scene.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-251500-4

Page Count: 310

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1997

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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