Seventeen autobiographical essays of varying quality that address the authors' experiences ``outside''—as editor Aguero (Humanities/Pine Manor College) puts it—the ``dominant tradition'' of ``white, male, heterosexual, upper-class, Eurocentric'' culture. A number of the contributors fall prey to banality by perpetrating stereotypes they eagerly purport to examine or overturn. Toi Derricotte, a black poet, insists that her light skin ``keeps things, literally, from being either black or white,'' but quickly retreats into a stance of victimhood when she recounts the racial insensitivities of fellow writers at a writers' colony. Far from exploring a unique or multilayered cultural heritage, the mainstream language of self-assertion and self-absorption too often employed here translates into a claim for literary attention: Several authors quote from their own work and relate the progress of their careers. The most successful pieces often approach the question of cultural authority obliquely or not at all. Gary Soto's stark evocation of working at a tire factory with illegal Mexican immigrants is spare, unsentimental, and authentic. Jack AgÅeros's cosmopolitan paean to different breads he has encountered while growing up in N.Y.C. includes a description of one bakery whose ethnic provenance he can't recall. Though the ethnic grandparent unfamiliar with American customs and wisdom is a fixture in several essays, Suzanne Odette Khuri in ``Jiddo: A Portrait'' evokes a much more complex view of the Lebanese grandfather she barely remembers by dovetailing his last years with the descent of Beirut into chaos. There are other accomplished essays here by Norman Paul Hyett, Kiana Davenport, Judith Oritz Cofer, and Garrett Hongo. A mixed bag, assembled under the 'common theme' of the 'relationship between culture and the problem of identity.'

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-8203-1498-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Univ. of Georgia

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 17

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this 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

Did you like this book?