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An entirely candid, compelling memoir of addiction and the long, fraught road of recovery.

A novelist’s account of how learning to live with a susceptibility to substance abuse helped him take control of his life in middle age.

Mohr (All This Life, 2015, etc.) showed a predilection for self-punishment early in his life. After his father “bolted for California,” his alcoholic mother left him with men who sometimes mistreated him. Mohr drank and drugged through his adolescence and young adulthood, losing jobs and an early marriage along the way. His craving for the pain that often came with overindulgence made him like Odysseus, who tied himself to the mast of his ship just so he could hear the “debauched propositions” of the Sirens and live to tell the tale. When he met Lelo, the woman who would become his second wife, his life began to stabilize. He started and finished a program in creative writing and gradually found success as a novelist. Yet he could not stop drinking and sometimes found himself “Alcoholic Quantum Leaping”: blacking out and then returning to reality, totally unaware of what had happened before he lost consciousness. Fatherhood and a commitment to his writing helped him curb his alcoholism, but whenever he tried to get completely sober, the “sirens” called him back to them. At age 35, Mohr had a stroke: three years later, doctors diagnosed a hole in his heart that they linked to his history of strokes. Forced to go on painkillers after more than five years of sobriety, Mohr meditated on mortality; his responsibilities to Lelo and his daughter; and on the fact that despite his best efforts, his more controlled relationship to drugs and alcohol could be compromised at any time. By turns raw and tender, this book not only chronicles a man’s literary coming-of-age. It also celebrates the power of love while offering an uncensored look at the frailties that can define—and sometimes overwhelm—people and their lives.

An entirely candid, compelling memoir of addiction and the long, fraught road of recovery.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-937512-34-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Two Dollar Radio

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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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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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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