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A poignant and resonant memoir of loss.

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Corbin offers a harrowing account of growing up in a fractured family in a working-class Massachusetts neighborhood.

Throughout this memoir, the author draws comparisons between her family, the Wrenns, and the similarly named, “scrappy little birds renowned for the way they flitter from place to place, building shallow rooted nests wherever they land.” Her family, she says, “never flew farther” than the Main South neighborhood of Worcester, Massachusetts, where “people didn’t fuss with ambition.” After her younger brother David’s suicide in 2018, Corbin decided to write this book to delve into her past; in it, she writes of an early childhood marked by parental neglect and abuse. Organized into roughly chronological sections that often focus on specific family members, Corbin’s account begins in 1980, when she was 6 years old; she tells of having to leave her home to forage for food in the local park after her parents temporarily abandoned her and her siblings. Shortly thereafter, her younger sister, Lisa, was adopted by an aunt, while the author and David were returned to their parents, whose subsequent fights she compares to those of professional wrestlers. Following her parents’ divorce, her mother’s drug use intensified—“something is angrier about the drugs she’s using now”—and she disappeared again, this time for several months; during that time, the author tells of abuse by a boyfriend. The memoir’s few moments of lightness, such as an account of the author’s tender relationship with her best friend, and their plan to escape from their present circumstances together, are complicated and tinged with loss. The memoir’s use of Massachusetts dialect (hawse, trahp) has an authenticity that vividly captures the essence of her environment. Overall, it’s a raw look at the realities of growing up in poverty and instability, and its unflinching style is complemented by poetic interstitials comparing each family member to specific characteristics of wrens. Although the story is very personal, it also touches on broader systemic issues affecting families in similar socio-economic conditions.

A poignant and resonant memoir of loss.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2024

ISBN: 9798988271567

Page Count: 284

Publisher: SDP Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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The stormy career of a top Navy SEAL hotspur. Commander Marcinko, USN Ret., recently served time at Petersburg Federal Prison for conspiracy to defraud the Navy by overcharging for specialized equipment—the result, he says, of telling off too many admirals. It seems that his ornery and joyous aggression, nurtured by a Czech grandfather in a flinty Pennsylvania mining town, has brought him to grief in peace and to brilliance in war. Serving his first tour in Vietnam in 1966 as an enlisted SEAL expert in underwater demolition, Marcinko returned for a second tour as an officer leading a commando squad he had trained. Here, his accounts of riverine warfare—creeping underwater to Vietcong boats and slipping over their gunwales; raiding VC island strongholds in the South China Sea; steaming up to the Cambodian border to tempt the VC across and being overrun- -are galvanic, detailed, and told with a true craftsman's love. What did he think of the Vietcong? ``The bastards—they were good.'' His battle philosophy? ``...kill my enemy before he has a chance to kill me....Never did I give Charlie an even break.'' After the aborted desert rescue of US hostages in the Tehran embassy, Marcinko was ordered to create SEAL Team Six—a counterterrorist unit with worldwide maritime responsibilities. In 1983, the unit was deployed to Beirut to test the security of the US embassy there. Easily evading the embassy security detail, sleeping Lebanese guards, and the Marines, the SEALs planted enough fake bombs to level the building. When Marcinko spoke to ``a senior American official'' about the problem, the SEAL's blunt security advice was rejected, particularly in respect to car-bomb attacks. Ninety days later, 63 people in the embassy compound were killed by a suicide bomber driving a TNT-filled truck. Profane and asking no quarter: the real nitty-gritty, bloody and authentic. (Eight-page photo insert—not seen.)

Pub Date: March 2, 1992

ISBN: 0-671-70390-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

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Great fun.

The second installment of childhood recollections (after Opposite the Cross Keys, 1988) by mystery writer S.T. Haymon, who here evokes a sheltered 12-year-old's further encounters with life's earthier side.

Haymon's 1920's, upper-middle-class childhood revolved typically around school, home, loyal servants, and a pair of doting, well-educated parents—until age 12, when her father died and her mother decided to move to London. Refusing to accompany her, the precocious, comically self-confident Sylvia tried to limit this series of upheavals by insisting on remaining in Norfolk in the care of a favorite teacher—except that at the last minute her headmistress (already a sworn enemy) switched houses, arranging for two maiden schoolteachers to put Sylvia up in their house instead. Sylvia knew that the Misses Gosse and Locke were eccentric. What she didn't know was that the skinny, aggressive history teacher and the teary, puppy-like math professor were lesbians. Nor did she notice as Miss Locke's increasingly desperate infatuation with her began to lead the entire household toward destruction. Amusing characters abound—the gardener, Sylvia's only ally, whose faith in the value of a virgin's tips on the horse races led him to pay her for advice; the dour housekeeper who sang opera and downed bottles of gin; the art teacher's model who bewildered Sylvia with talk of "randy old dykes"; and the spiritual channel who informed her that her daddy was watching everything she did from heaven. Haymon's depiction of herself as an unusually clever, frequently petulant, and thoroughly practical young girl obsessed with filling her stomach while all sorts of passionate fireworks exploded around her evokes an era when secrets still existed and scandals were bursting to happen—and makes for slyly humorous, very British entertainment.

Great fun.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 1990

ISBN: 312-04986-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

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