A pleasant expression of deep appreciation for a man who changed the author’s life by enriching it.

COACH WOODEN AND ME

OUR 50-YEAR FRIENDSHIP ON AND OFF THE COURT

One of the greatest basketball players in history reflects on one of the greatest coaches in history.

Abdul-Jabbar—the NBA’s all-time leading scorer who is now a writer of essays and books (Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White, 2016, etc.)—notes several times the oddity of the friendship between a towering, urban African-American and a much smaller white Midwesterner with deep Christian convictions. But their friendship continued until Wooden died in 2010 at the age of 99. After summarizing his boyhood, the author tells how he decided on UCLA (he was the nation’s most sought-after high school player) and how he adjusted to West Coast life and Wooden-style basketball. During his college days, freshmen couldn’t play varsity, and dunking was proscribed, so who knows what wonders he could have otherwise achieved? Throughout, Abdul-Jabbar asserts continually that it was Wooden’s example that became most meaningful to him. The coach believed in physical fitness and team play, and he lived by a high ethical standard that deeply impressed the author, who can hardly bear to mention the coach’s (few) stumbles—though he does devote a chapter to them, a chapter that pales in comparison to the positive ones. Abdul-Jabbar’s style is free and easy, with some flashes of humor. An occasional error appears on the score sheet—Carl Stokes was the mayor of Cleveland, not Detroit—but the author is candid about his attitudes toward the racial turmoil of the 1960s, his conversion to Islam, his experiences suffering racial taunts from fans of opposing teams—and, in one grim case, from his high school coach, a conflict since reconciled. The author’s account of his visit to Wooden on his deathbed is wrenching.

A pleasant expression of deep appreciation for a man who changed the author’s life by enriching it.

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4555-4227-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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The book begins in Sri Lanka with the tsunami of 2004—a horror the author saw firsthand, and the aftermath of which he...

LIVES OTHER THAN MY OWN

The latest from French writer/filmmaker Carrère (My Life as a Russian Novel, 2010, etc.) is an awkward but intermittently touching hybrid of novel and autobiography.

The book begins in Sri Lanka with the tsunami of 2004—a horror the author saw firsthand, and the aftermath of which he describes powerfully. Carrère and his partner, Hélène, then return to Paris—and do so with a mutual devotion that's been renewed and deepened by all they've witnessed. Back in France, Hélène's sister Juliette, a magistrate and mother of three small daughters, has suffered a recurrence of the cancer that crippled her in adolescence. After her death, Carrère decides to write an oblique tribute and an investigation into the ravages of grief. He focuses first on Juliette's colleague and intimate friend Étienne, himself an amputee and survivor of childhood cancer, and a man in whose talkativeness and strength Carrère sees parallels to himself ("He liked to talk about himself. It's my way, he said, of talking to and about others, and he remarked astutely that it was my way, too”). Étienne is a perceptive, dignified person and a loyal, loving friend, and Carrère's portrait of him—including an unexpectedly fascinating foray into Étienne and Juliette's chief professional accomplishment, which was to tap the new European courts for help in overturning longtime French precedents that advantaged credit-card companies over small borrowers—is impressive. Less successful is Carrère's account of Juliette's widower, Patrice, an unworldly cartoonist whom he admires for his fortitude but seems to consider something of a simpleton. Now and again, especially in the Étienne sections, Carrère's meditations pay off in fresh, pungent insights, and his account of Juliette's last days and of the aftermath (especially for her daughters) is quietly harrowing.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9261-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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