Next book



With a bang and a whimper—and a yawn.

“Learning to walk with crutches has an otherworldly component.” So writes Flook (Mothers and Lovers, 2014, etc.) in one of the occasional G-rated passages in this lurid but limping memoir.

Have we lost our ability to be shocked? When the author confesses to having had sex with her brother (“no penetration”), the men in the room with her at the time leer, but those of us outside the fourth wall are likely to do nothing more than blink. Flook also tells about the time she had sex with three French sailors in rapid succession; “sisterly masturbation” with another woman writer; and an affair with her editor. The author insists that her development as a writer, the ostensible subject of the piece, is bound up so closely with her sex life that the two can’t be separated, but every time she aims to épater le bourgeois, it falls flat. Were the memoir by a writer of greater renown, some of this literary-sex-nexus stuff might be of interest, but as presented here, it’s mechanical, clinical, and mostly just tedious. (There are admittedly a couple of memorable moments, one of them when a sex addict with a violent streak winds up as a writer of Hallmark Cards.) More interesting are Flook’s portraits of her mother—suffice it to say that the old acorn and oak metaphor comes to mind—and gravely ill son, both of whom illustrate a point: the author writes deeply and well when the lens is on someone else and the topics at hand, such as death and literary rivalry, are more serious, all of which happen less often than one might like. Still, if lines like, “it’s a delicious weakness that I welcome each time a man nudges my legs open” make you go all a-tremble, then this is just the ticket, though Erica Jong probably has nothing to worry about.

With a bang and a whimper—and a yawn.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57962-515-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

Next 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

Next 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

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview