by Mag Dimond ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 17, 2019
A luminous, engrossing meditation on family love and loss.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2019
An American woman’s trips to foreign lands help her come to terms with a troubled past in this memoir.
Dimond, a retired writing professor, juxtaposes scenes from her world travels with fraught episodes from her personal life to tease out hidden resonances. She begins with an account of a three-year teenage sojourn in Italy in the 1950s, during which she contrasts the warmth of the local culture with her chilly relationship with her mother, a free-spirited artist, which left the young author feeling lonely and undervalued. Her adult travels took her to more exotic locales, which she intersperses with more family memories and Buddhist teachings that she adopted in maturity. At one point, for example, a nunnery in Burma evokes recollections of a childhood girlfriend’s family, which was as welcoming as her own was alienating. A 2013 visit to see Ho Chi Minh’s miraculously preserved corpse on display in Hanoi takes her back to a similarly hallucinatory acid trip that she had during the 1967 Summer of Love. A 2010 encounter with an elephant herd in Kenya, in which the adult females vigilantly guarded their calves, provokes a recollection of a time in 1966 when she briefly abandoned her husband and 1-year-old daughter for a fling in Las Vegas. She closes with a long, Proustian remembrance of her childhood hometown of San Francisco that takes in bohemian North Beach, the bustling downtown, and the Pacific Heights house where her grandmother led an elegant life that was full of disappointment. The author’s loose-limbed narrative moves back and forth in time, telling a tale that’s less about specific events than it is about shifting moods in shifting places—sometimes anxious, plaintive, or grief-stricken and other times brimming with interest and wonder. The prose is gorgeous and novelistic, vividly depicting the pitiless African savanna (“Greasy-looking black vultures swooped and hovered and swooped again, pecking away at the sour-smelling carcass; they shrieked nervously”) and the mellow ambiance of Florence (“golden light reaching down and blessing an arched doorway, a cloud of cigarette smoke, as children scurried along with their soccer ball”). Much of the book’s sensuousness comes from its lavish descriptions of food, from elaborate feasts to a simple egg: “warm and comforting to hold in the palm of your hand, the creamy and sticky richness of the golden yolk, so good you must lick the little egg spoon clean.” At its haunted center is a wistful and wounded portrait of Dimond’s relationship with her mother, who is a changing landscape in her own right: She was movie-star glamorous in her youth, but the author describes how, in her decline, she had “the ugly wide calloused feet she tried to squeeze into pretty flats, the gnarled hands that she didn’t cherish anymore…her lipstick always seemed cracked.” Overall, this is not merely an account of strange lands and novel adventures, but also a moving saga of a woman wandering the world in search of home.A luminous, engrossing meditation on family love and loss.
Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019
Page Count: 256
Publisher: She Writes Press
Review Posted Online: July 8, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
Share your opinion of 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.
Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006
Page Count: 120
Publisher: Hill & Wang
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006
Share your opinion of this book
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
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006
Share your opinion of this book
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!