More good-natured memoirs from the king of chat. King (Tell Me More, 1990, etc.) rules the live airwaves these days. Here, he gives a clue to his success, saying ``I was always...Immediate Gratification King. It's why I love doing live radio and live television.'' It's also why he loves Brooklyn, the subject of these boyhood memoirs. King (born in 1933) was raised there in a Jewish-and-Italian neighborhood where the pursuit of pleasure was the name of the game. Food was ``a religious experience''—miraculous chocolate egg-creams, heavenly blintzes (``eat six or seven, then get right in your car and drive to the hospital for your heart attack''). Adventures with a teenage gang made way for girl-chasing and amateur theatrics. Working one summer in the Catskills, King ``got laid...on home plate at the Grossinger's softball field''; back in Bensonhurst, he matched muscles in a street-corner contest with another local Jewish boy, future Dodger superstar Sandy Koufax. Life revolved around family (lots of eccentric relatives here), sports, and, increasingly, the magic of radio. King imagines what it would have been like to be on CNN back in those days (from a fantasy interview with Hitler: ``It vas the people of Poland who called for us''). Happy memories notwithstanding, times were tough: King's father died young, and his mother went on welfare and worked as a seamstress in a sweatshop. King's prospects seemed gloomy. He was a terrible student, graduating high school with a 66 average; only his chutzpah and good will, both enormous, pulled him through. King concludes with a nostalgic visit to his childhood haunts. Murray the Barber is gone, so is Maltz's Candy Store; the neighborhood is sliding downhill. But still ``those inanimate objects were breathing that weekend, whispering memories to me, making my life full''—and making this reminiscence a warmhearted winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 1992

ISBN: 0-316-49356-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992


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



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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